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For second straight week, Lightfoot leaving town for trip mixing business, fundraising

Last week, Lightfoot was on a lobbying/fundraising trip to Washington D.C. Tuesday night, she’s off to California. The first stop will be San Francisco, where the mayor will meet with donors and hold fundraisers in the Bay Area.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot at a news conference.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot was raising money on a trip to Washington last week, and later this week, will head to California for more of the same.
Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times file

For the second straight week, Mayor Lori Lightfoot is leaving Chicago for an out-of-town trip that mixes business and fundraising.

Last week, Lightfoot was on a lobbying/fundraising trip to Washington, D.C. She missed a special City Council meeting where the rival Latino and Black caucuses missed a Dec. 1 deadline for approving a new ward map, drawn to reflect the 2020 Census.

Tuesday night, she’s off to California.

The first stop will be San Francisco, where the mayor will meet donors and hold fundraisers in the Bay Area.

She’ll then travel to Los Angeles to join World Business Chicago CEO Michael Fassnacht and other officials of the public-private job growth agency for a series of roundtables with L.A. business leaders.

“World Business Chicago will host a WBC/mayoral roundtable in California for VC’s [venture capitalists], investors, CEO’s and founders to facilitate new partnerships and opportunities that ensure equitable economic growth,” World Business Chicago spokesman Andrew Hayes said in statement.

“WBC is paying for travel-related expenses of WBC officials.”

More fundraising is planned during the mayor’s stay in Los Angeles, along with a visit to Lightfoot’s aunt, the twin of the mayor’s mother.

The entire California fundraising swing will be “focused on LBGTQ progressive donor community, environment-focused supporters and tech entrepreneurs,” said a source familiar with that portion of the trip.

Out of an abundance of caution, sources said, the mayor’s portion of the trip will be paid for entirely by her political committee, Lightfoot for Chicago. So will the travel expenses of her security detail and political staff.

Next week, San Francisco Mayor London Breed will be in Chicago to headline a fundraiser for Lightfoot at the Theater on the Lake in Lincoln Park.

Lightfoot for Chicago, the mayor’s primary political fund, raised just over $22,000 during the third quarter that ended Sept. 30 and closed the reporting period with $1.13 million in the bank.

She has since raised another $25,000.

Sources said she is prepared to raise and spend “whatever it takes” to win a second term — even as recent polls show her approval rating well below 50%, driven largely by rising crime.

On Monday, Lightfoot argued yet again that Chicago is not alone in enduring an unprecedented increase in violent crime. Other major cities are experiencing the same thing, she said.

“Every other crime category that we focus on in the FBI index—every single one of those is at 25-year lows,” she said.

“We’re not taking a victory lap as long as our homicide and our shooting number is up. But, it’s important to put all of this in context. The other thing that’s important is, we’re seeing our detectives solve more homicides — 350 this year to date and counting—than they have in the last sixteen years.”

With Chicago almost certain to end the year with more than 800 homicides, Republican gubernatorial candidates have ramped up their rhetoric about the city’s rising crime rate.

On Sunday, the mayor used the recent comments by California venture capitalist Jesse Sullivan — quoted as saying Chicago has “become a corrupt war zone” — in an emailed fundraising appeal to small donors.

“The worst part? This candidate has already amassed an $11 million war chest, thanks to his West Coast special interests,” the mayor’s email states, without mentioning Sullivan by name.

“The future governor of Illinois needs to be someone with real skills and leadership — not someone who hurls insults at our communities with nothing to back it up. Will you stand up against the GOP’s insults and support our great city by making a contribution today?”

Lightfoot for Chicago put out another fundraising email Monday using the “troubling history of hateful remarks” by Fraternal Order of Police President John Catanzara, “who now claims he’s going to run for mayor.”

“This guy is bad news. ... We don’t need a student of Donald Trump leading this city,” the email states.

“We’ll be honest with you. We have no idea what this next year will bring. So we need to do everything we can to prepare now. That’s why we’re asking you to help us send a message: Chicago stands with Mayor Lightfoot.”

In 2019, Lightfoot raised roughly $5 million to finish first in Round One of the mayoral sweepstakes, then captured all 50 wards in a run-off cakewalk over County Board President Toni Preckwinkle.

Lightfoot was languishing in the single-digits until Jan. 3, 2019, when the first round of federal corruption charges against now-indicted Ald. Edward Burke (14th) mentioned a $10,000 campaign contribution Burke allegedly muscled from a Burger King franchise owner for Preckwinkle.

It’s not the first time Lightfoot has mined the national gay and lesbian fundraising network.

Shortly after taking office, she flew to Los Angeles and drove to Palm Springs to headline a fundraiser for a political action committee organized by former Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California, and to lay groundwork for her own future campaign fundraising.

One week later, Lightfoot took on an even larger national profile among high-roller gay Democratic donors by hitting New York to speak at the Democratic National Committee’s 20th annual LGBTQ gala after taping “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”