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Pro-Emanuel super PAC spends $485,000 on anti-Garcia commercials and robocalls

After raising $14 million and blanketing the airwaves for months, the last thing Mayor Rahm Emanuel needs is another wave of feel-good commercials to rehabilitate his image.

But that’s exactly what he’s getting to close the mayoral campaign, courtesy of the $2 million super PAC created to help re-elect the mayor and strengthen his City Council majority.

Barred by law from coordinating with the Emanuel campaign, Chicago Forward has made a $450,000 commercial and cable television buy on the mayor’s behalf, with ads running through election day. Another $35,000 will be spent on robocalls for Emanuel through Tuesday.

Chicago Forward’s 30-second spot describes Emanuel as “a mayor as strong as Chicago” whose leadership has earned newspaper endorsements. Then, it trashes mayoral challenger Jesus “Chuy” Garcia for casting a 1980s vote for the “biggest property tax increase in city history” and for claiming an “illegal” homeowners exemption on “two houses at the same time to avoid paying over $8,000 in taxes.”

The ad concludes with a kicker: “Chuy Garcia: Out for himself. Not us.”

Garcia said the $8,500 in back taxes he owed the county was for a tax break he did not request and had no idea still applied to his parents’ Southwest Side home when he inherited the property after his mother died.

He once again defended his 1980s City Council vote — for a property tax increase that was actually the second-largest in Chicago history — as an effort to stave off 11,000 layoffs, including 5,000 police officers.

“The mayor is obviously scared. He’s afraid of being forced into a run-off, which I intend to do,” Garcia said Thursday.

“That’s why Chicago Forward has jumped into the fray, distorting things they had to reach way back for. Rahm Emanuel is trying to turn an administrative mistake by a government agency into a crime. It’s dishonest and disingenuous.”

Garcia noted that Emanuel has been “on TV since Thanksgiving and it’s the least successful Rahm-com ever.”

“The one thing missing from his ads are the 10,000 shootings under his administration. I dare him to put up an ad on crime. He obviously has the money. But he won’t do it. People would revolt if he did,” Garcia said.

Becky Carrroll, the longtime mayoral ally now serving as chairman and CEO of “Chicago Forward,” didn’t buy Garcia’s argument that his “tough vote” for an $80 million property tax hike staved off thousands of layoffs.

“No one was ever prepared to lay off 11,000 workers. Mayor Harold Washington’s own staff admitted privately that the cuts were only a bluff and they would never have been carried out,” Carroll said.

“Garcia is willing to do and say anything to distance himself from the fact that he voted for the largest property tax hike in city history, just as he was willing to do anything to pass it.”

Carroll was asked why she is still making the claim that Garcia voted for the largest property tax increase in history when that distinction actually belongs to the $83.4 million hike that former Mayor Richard M. Daley pushed through after his last election.

“Adjusted for inflation, that is accurate,” Carroll said.

She added, “I’m not sure saying he voted for the second-largest property tax increase in Chicago history is going to make homeowners feel much better.”

Emanuel himself proposed a five-year, $250 million property tax increase to shore up two of four city employee pension funds before substituting 56 percent increase in the monthly tax tacked on to telephone bills at the behest of former Gov. Pat Quinn.

In addition to the $485,000 in spending to influence the mayor’s race, Chicago Forward has now spent $719,000 to bolster the campaigns of 25 aldermanic candidates, including 23 incumbents and candidates for two open seats.

Mayoral challenger Bob Fioretti has accused Chicago Forward of attempting to destroy the Progressive Caucus and snuff out dissent.

But the super PAC has actually targeted only two of its members: Aldermen Scott Waguespack (32nd) and John Arena (45th).

And records show that the $31,500 that Chicago Forward spent on those two races pales in comparison to the $48,000 that Waguespack has collected from SEIU, AFSCME and the Chicago Teachers Union and the $273,000 that Arena has received from those unions.