Lori Lightfoot campaign contributor Carmen Rossi to pay $5,000 fine for violating lobbying rules

The lawyer and bar owner who holds the liquor license for Lollapalooza violated lobbying rules when he asked a City Hall official to help secure business licenses to operate parking lots on Chicago Public Schools property.

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Clout-heavy businessman and lobbyist Carmen A. Rossi and Mayor Lori Lightfoot at an undated event.

Clout-heavy businessman and lobbyist Carmen A. Rossi and Mayor Lori Lightfoot at an undated event.

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Carmen A. Rossi, a lawyer and bar owner who holds the liquor license for Lollapalooza, has agreed to pay a $5,000 fine for violating City Hall’s lobbying rules when he asked a city official to help secure business licenses to operate parking lots on Chicago Public Schools property.

Rossi wasn’t registered as a lobbyist for his company, Chicago Parking Solutions, when he sent an email on March 7, 2022, asking Kenneth Meyer, Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s commissioner of business affairs and consumer protection, to help secure business licenses for the parking company, the Chicago Sun-Times reported last year.

The Chicago Board of Ethics found that Rossi violated the lobbying rules when he sent that email to Meyer because he wasn’t registered as a lobbyist for the parking company.

Rossi, who was a campaign contributor to Lightfoot, disagreed with the Board of Ethics, saying Meyer’s agency had no authority to issue the licenses Rossi needed to fulfill his contract with the Chicago Board of Education to park cars on school playgrounds near Wrigley Field and other schools near United Center and Guaranteed Rate Field.

Neither Rossi nor his attorney Michael Forde responded to calls Monday seeking comment.

Following Lightfoot’s election four years ago, Rossi and his companies gave $68,500 to her campaign fund in what appeared to violate an executive order imposed more than a decade ago by then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

After the Sun-Times reported on Rossi’s contributions to Lightfoot, the mayor agreed to return $44,500 to Rossi. She kept money from other companies connected to Rossi, who said he didn’t own those businesses.

Rossi’s bars, which are regulated by Meyer’s agency, have come under scrutiny because of violence concerns. In September 2021, a patron of his nightclub LiqrBox in the 800 block of North Orleans Street had been kicked out of the bar and was fatally shot in the street.

Meyer and the Chicago Police Department have shut down or closed dozens of other bars after shootings but didn’t take any action against Rossi’s bar.

Two weeks after that shooting, Meyer’s inspectors issued seven citations to Rossi’s bar, including citing him for operating with an expired state liquor license and expired insurance.

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