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Billionaire Ken Griffin donates $1 million to Bill Daley mayoral campaign

Mayoral candidate Bill Daley. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Mayoral candidate Bill Daley. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

Bill Daley has been blanketing the television airwaves with commercials hammering away at the issues of crime, taxes and downtown-centric development.

Now, he’ll be able to do a whole lot more of it, courtesy of Illinois’ richest man.

Hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin has contributed a whopping $1 million to Daley’s mayoral campaign.

In a statement, Griffin said he is proud to support Daley “after careful consideration.”

“Bill is a proven leader who understands the critical importance of working for all Chicagoans regardless of politics, race or background,” Griffin was quoted as saying.

Chicago billionaire Ken Griffin discusses a $10 million donation to reduce gun violence in the city on April 12, 2018.

Ken Griffin, founder and CEO of the hedge fund Citadel. | Sun-Times files

“He will bring together a diversity of views across the city on our most pressing challenges of creating jobs, reducing violent crime, and improving our schools so we all can be proud to live and work in this world-class city that we call our home.”

The donation pads Daley’s runaway lead in the fundraising sweepstakes and takes the son and brother of Chicago mayors over the $7.4 million mark. In a statement released by his campaign, Daley thanked Griffin for the “generous support” and vote of confidence in his ability to run the city run by two previous Mayors Daley for 43 years.

“His investments in Chicago, in its cultural institutions, in its healthcare organizations, and in improvements that benefit all residents are a model of giving back to the community,” Daley was quoted as saying.

“While we may not agree on every political issue, Ken’s commitment to Chicago is unquestionable and unwavering. I thank Ken for his support as our campaign continues working to earn the support of voters in every neighborhood.”

Three years ago, Griffin made the $12 million donation needed to complete the lakefront trail separation project.

At the time, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he was willing to take the hit from those who didn’t like the fact that the city was relying on the largesse from a billionaire hedge fund investor who has become a poster boy for the so-called “one-percenters.”

“We could not do this without him,” Emanuel, who counted Griffin among his biggest campaign contributors, said then.

“I talked to Ken, who is a biker, and asked him to help us fund this. He’s helping 100,000 people-a-day. This takes our most important open space and invests in it for the next 50 or 60 years.”

One year later, the Kenneth C. Griffin Charitable Fund made a $3 million donation that will pave the way for construction of 50 miniature soccer fields over a five-year period.

“On the soccer field is where I learned … the value of hard work, practice, teamwork, competition and fair play,” Griffin said then.

“These are life lessons that one carries through their entire life. It’s impacted my business. It impacts how I run Citadel.”

In addition to the lakefront trail and soccer field projects, Griffin also contributed: $1 million to the Obama Foundation; $10 million to the Chicago Police Department for strategic deployment centers; $19 million to the Art Institute; $10 million to the Griffin Early Childhood center in Chicago Heights; and $16 million to Children’s Memorial Hospital.

Business leaders who crave stability and predictability have anything but that in the current field of 14 mayoral candidates vying to replace Emanuel.

They’ve filled Daley’s campaign coffers amid concern that Chicago could take a sharp turn to the political left under a new mayor who targets business for dramatically higher taxes.

But business leaders have also been hedging their bets by contributing to multiple candidates and holding back the big contributions that helped Emanuel raise and spend a record $24 million to survive Chicago’s first-ever mayoral runoff in 2015.

The same cannot be said for Ken Griffin. The $1 million donation proves he’s all in for Bill Daley.