Emanuel defends his $11 million warchest

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The Sun-Times endorses Mayor Rahm Emanuel for re-election.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is a prolific fundraiser who’s proving it once again, this time on his own behalf.

He’s already topped the $11 million mark, most recently thanks to Hollywood moguls like director Steven Spielberg, Dreamworks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg and music executive David Geffen. It doesn’t hurt that the mayor’s brother, Hollywood agent Ari Emanuel, is one of the most powerful men in that town.

On Friday, the mayor was asked whether it’s “good for democracy” that he feels the need to raise that much money to run for mayor of Chicago.

“What’s important in a democracy is that people know where you stand and what your positions are. Do you have the ideas? Do you have the record? And do you have also the determination, the strength to see those ideas through,” the mayor said.

“As it relates particularly to your campaign question — I’ve always advocated free TV time. And I don’t see a lot of broadcasters do that. Where does 80 percent of your money go? To the broadcasters. If they want to make it free, you’ll see a lot less fundraising.”

Last fall, a $100,000 self-donation from a mayoral hopeful who ultimately decided not to run lifted state caps that would have limited campaign donations in the race for mayor to $5,300 from individuals, $10,500 from corporations and $52,600 for political action committees.

That allowed Emanuel to go back to the same heavy-hitters who had already maxed out to his campaign.

Of the $760,800 that the mayor has collected in recent weeks, $731,900 of it would not have been possible if William Kelly’s donation to himself hadn’t inadvertently helped the mayor by taking the shackles off.

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