Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel tightens grip on campaign finances in city race

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel. File Photo. | Al Podgorski / Sun-Times Media

Mayor Rahm Emanuel maintained a stronghold over campaign finances in Chicago’s mayoral contest, having spent $4.7 million in the race in the final weeks of 2014 and closing out the year with $6.4 million in the bank.

The pro-Emanuel Chicago Forward PAC finished the year with just under $2 million in its account, according to newly disclosed campaign finance reports.

Emanuel took in $2.5 million of new money in the last three months of 2014. Once again, star-studded donations rolled into Emanuel’s account, including $25,000 from Steven Spielberg, $50,000 from music executive David Geffen and another $10,000 from Dreamworks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg. Emanuel’s brother, Ari, is a hot shot Hollywood talent agent who was the inspiration for the character Ari Gold on the HBO series “Entourage.”

The bulk of Mayor Emanuel’s spending late last year went to a series of TV ads that are in frequent rotation in Chicago. The only other mayoral candidate who is up with TV spots is Willie Wilson, who loaned himself about $150,000 by the end of last year. Over the last several weeks, the businessman and philanthropist ramped up self-donations to more than $1.3 million from himself personally and $10,000 from one of his firms, Omar Medical Supply.

Ald. Bob Fioretti (2nd) and Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia had not yet filed their economic disclosure forms Thursday evening. The reports are due by the end of the day.

Union money accounts for bulk of Chuy’s campaign cash

However, a look at separate filings required for contributions in excess than $1,000 already shows Emanuel’s fund-raising dwarfs that of his competitors.

Among the mayor’s largest contributors last year: Chicago private equity investor Donald Edwards, who donated $100,000; Groupon co-founder Eric Lefkofsky, who donated $50,000. Lagunitas Brewing Company, which recently built a 300,000 square foot facility in Chicago, and donated $25,000.  And Chicago Bulls/White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf made a $12,500 contribution to the mayor’s campaign.

William “Dock” Walls was the sole contributor to his own campaign, according to the most recent filings, having made a $25,000 contribution to himself in October.

In the governor’s race, multimillionaire Gov. Bruce Rauner raised $40 million in the last three months of 2014. Half of that money came into his account on the last day of the year in deposits from himself, billionaire Ken Griffin and a third businessman.

Former Gov. Pat Quinn, who lost to Rauner in November, took in $9.3 million in new receipts that same time period, spending more than $13 million in that time. He ended the year with a balance of nearly $700,000.

Illinois Freedom PAC, an independent expenditure committee aimed at supporting Quinn’s re-election, spent about $1 million in the last three months of the year.

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