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A billionaire family divided: Laura Ricketts endorses Mendoza

Laura Ricketts listens to her brother Tom talk about their family taking control of the Chicago Cubs baseball club

Laura Ricketts has endorsed Susana Mendoza for Chicago mayor. | AP file photo

Political divisions in the billionaire family that owns the Cubs are on display again — this time in the crowded race for mayor of Chicago.

Cubs board member Laura Ricketts, a prominent Democratic fundraiser and a leader on gay and lesbian issues, on Thursday endorsed Susana Mendoza and agreed to co-chair Mendoza’s mayoral campaign.

The endorsement comes just days after her brother, Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts, donated $25,000 to Bill Daley’s campaign, joining a parade of business leaders who have made Daley the runaway winner in the mayoral fundraising sweepstakes with more than $5 million raised so far.

Laura Ricketts has long been a lone liberal voice in her family led by arch-conservative patriarch Joe Ricketts.

She was a leading fundraiser for both Hillary Clinton and former President Barack Obama. She has also served on the executive committee of the Democratic National Committee.

A news release issued by the Mendoza campaign quoted Laura Ricketts as saying she chose Mendoza because of her “strong ethics plan and opposition to aldermanic prerogative.”

That’s the unwritten rule at the heart of the burgeoning City Hall corruption scandal involving the City Council’s two most powerful aldermen. It allows local aldermen to have final say on zoning, licensing and permitting issues.

“I strongly support her proposals to end the arbitrary and capricious Chicago aldermanic prerogative and expand and strengthen the inspector general’s oversight of the City Council,” Laura Ricketts said in the news release.

“Susana Mendoza has outlined an outstanding plan to fight corruption and raise the standard of ethics and accountability in city government.”

Ricketts noted that Mendoza consulted with former U.S. Attorney Dan Webb, who helped to undercover the Operation Greylord judicial corruption scandal, before proposing an Anti-Corruption, Accountability and Ethics Commission patterned after the Solovy Commission that recommended systemic changes in the court system.

“Susana’s ethics platform is the most comprehensive proposal of any of the mayoral candidates. She has the experience and determination to ensure her ideas for cleaning up city government are enacted,” Ricketts said in the news release.

“She will be an energetic mayor who brings Chicago together and leads us into the future. Because of this, she is my candidate for mayor and I’m proud to serve as her campaign co-chair.”

Mendoza has been dragged down by a burgeoning City Hall corruption scandal that now involves three of her powerful political allies: Aldermen Edward Burke (14th) and Danny Solis (25th) and Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.

The Laura Ricketts endorsement allowed Mendoza to change the subject and reclaim the moral high ground.

“Laura shares my passion for Chicago, and she knows that we must take bold action to hold elected officials accountable. Chicago deserves better,” Mendoza said in a news release.

“Having Laura’s endorsement, enthusiasm and knowledge will help build a new and stronger future for our city — a future that includes everyone and that restores faith in government.”

Although the Ricketts family is divided on the question of who should replace Mayor Rahm Emanuel, they are united in their desire to unseat incumbent Ald. Tom Tunney (44th), whose ward includes Wrigley Field.

Earlier this month, Tunney accused the Ricketts family of targeting him — and trying to elect a puppet alderman in his place — to pave the way for a “Disneyland” agenda that will make life miserable for Wrigleyville residents.