Pay-To-Play: Chicago Tribune Blasts Rahm As Data Reveals 70% Of Donors Get Lucrative City Hall Contracts

What do you get when you combine the most corrupt city in the United States with a mayor that got his political debut serving in the Clinton White House?  Well, according to data presented by the Chicago Tribune today, it may just all add up to the second most sophisticated 'pay-to-play' operation in know, because no one will ever come close to beating the Clintons at their own game.

After reviewing more than 500 contributions made to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel of at least $5,000 since July 2015, the Tribune reports today that nearly 70% of them came from people who have received, or are seeking, lucrative contracts with City Hall.  Frankly, we are 'shocked.'

As Mayor Rahm Emanuel ramps up his campaign fundraising toward a possible third term, he continues to rely on donors who have received City Hall benefits, ranging from contracts and zoning approvals to appointments and personal endorsements from the mayor, the Chicago Tribune has found.


With the February 2019 mayoral election still a year and a half away, Emanuel has collected $3.1 million in high-dollar contributions. And more than $2.1 million of it — nearly 70 percent — has come from 83 donors who have benefited from actions at City Hall.


Among the contributors: law firms seeking approval for their clients' projects or lucrative bond business for themselves, developers needing City Hall permission to build here, an events promoter negotiating the financial details of a major music festival and restaurateurs wanting coveted space at Chicago's airports.

So how does he do it? 

Turns out there are plenty of examples which include the following 'doozy' in which Rahm raked in nearly $40,000 at a law firm fundraiser and then approved their zoning plans for a new McDonald's facility the very next day.

For example, Emanuel has received blocks of campaign contributions from DLA Piper, one of the go-to firms for real estate developers to get zoning approval at City Hall. The firm's zoning law practice was built up by David Reifman, a onetime zoning attorney who now holds substantial approval power over all new projects as the city's commissioner of planning and development.


During Emanuel's first run for mayor, DLA Piper lawyers and relatives gave him $54,000 in political contributions. In his bid for a second term, it was more than $75,000. This time around, 15 of the firm's lawyers gave $35,700 after Emanuel stopped by DLA Piper's downtown office for a Sept. 13 breakfast his official calendar listed as "non-city," the label often given to campaign events or fundraisers.


Emanuel's fundraiser took place as DLA Piper zoning attorneys were lobbying City Hall to sign off on the new West Loop headquarters of McDonald's Corp. The Emanuel administration approved the plans the day after the fundraiser.



And here's another great example whereby Rahm hired the law firm of Schiff Hardin for the city's $1.2 billion bond issue, an engagement on which they made over $200,000 btw, then strolled through their office just a couple months later for his kickback fundraiser.

Schiff Hardin is another firm whose lawyers have contributed to the mayor's campaign and benefited from decisions made by the Emanuel administration.


The firm made at least $205,000 serving as co-counsel on the city's January $1.2 billion bond issue, a massive borrowing plan to patch city debt, records show. About three months later, Emanuel attended a lunch at the firm's offices on South Wacker Drive, another event labeled "non-city" on the mayor's calendar. A week later, Emanuel's campaign deposited $17,800 from 11 of the firm's lawyers, records show.


Schiff Hardin partner Bruce Weisenthal said the mayor was invited to speak at the firm. He said Emanuel spoke for about an hour, giving an uplifting talk about the state of Chicago and where the city is going. "He was very generous with his time," Weisenthal said.


That lunchtime event came after a fundraiser in 2013. That year, Schiff Hardin made $96,000 in fees from a $276 million city wastewater revenue bond project. Three months later, Emanuel collected more than $16,000 from 13 Schiff Hardin lawyers at a campaign event.

But, it's not just law firms that seem to be able to buy special access in Chicago.  No, this concert operator got his Lollapalooza music festival extended by a day for the bargain basement price of just $106,000 in donations.

While Emanuel bans contributions from the owners of businesses with City Hall contracts, he has accepted them from businesses that have contracts or permits with so-called "sister agencies," such as the Chicago Park District. In such cases, the mayor's campaign has contended there is no contract directly with City Hall, though Emanuel controls the sister agencies and appoints their leaders.


And so Emanuel has taken contributions from C3 Presents, an Austin, Texas-based concert promotions company that puts on the massive Lollapalooza music festival in Grant Park.


In 2014, the Tribune reported that Charlie Jones, one of C3's founders, threw an Emanuel fundraiser at his Austin home during the city's signature South by Southwest festival. Soon after, Emanuel reported pulling in nearly $104,000 in campaign contributions from Texas donors.


This time around, Emanuel reported receiving more than $106,000 from Texas donors in December and January, including maximum $5,400 contributions from Jones, fellow C3 founder Charlie Walker and their wives.

Oh, and for the right contributions, Rahm apparently also likes to dole out those lucrative airport restaurant leases as well.

Emanuel also has accepted campaign money from businesses that have benefited from major concessionaire contracts at O'Hare International and Midway International airports.


The mayor's office and his campaign say those contributions don't run afoul of Emanuel's executive orders because the businesses don't hold a contract directly with City Hall, but instead are licensees under two umbrella groups that have the contracts.


The restaurants at both airports do, however, stand to make millions of dollars from decisions made by Emanuel's Department of Aviation, where the mayor's hand-picked commissioner signs off on every souvenir shop, restaurant and book store at the airports.


Restaurant giant Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises has been granted access to travelers beyond security checkpoints under the two airport concession deals.


Company founder Richard Melman has been a longtime supporter of Emanuel, and several Lettuce restaurants — including Tallboy Tacos, Big City Chicken, Big Bowl, M Burger and R.J. Grunts — were selected for new spots at Midway under a contract approved Feb. 22.


The mayor's calendar shows Emanuel attending a "non-city" Jan. 12 lunch at Melman's RPM Steak restaurant in River North. Emanuel's calendar also shows the mayor meeting with Melman and Lettuce executive Christopher Meers at his fifth floor City Hall office Feb. 10 — less than two weeks before the Midway contract won City Council approval.

Meanwhile, the Tribune notes that the Rahm administration issued a statement on how they passed legislation "cracking down" on pay-to-play activities when they first took office back in 2011.  That said, as the Tribune also notes, the legislation has proven to be a complete farce as there are endless loopholes that essentially render it completely useless.  But, at least they 'tried.'

On the day he took office in May 2011, Emanuel issued executive orders aimed at cracking down on the pay-to-play politics that long served as a staple at City Hall. He banned business owners with city contracts and registered City Hall lobbyists from giving to the mayor.


In practice, the orders have proven to be narrowly drawn, allowing Emanuel to accept contributions from donors who benefit from his administration's actions. For example, registered lobbyists at a law firm can't give, but their colleagues can. The owners of companies with city contracts can't give, but their employees can.


Emanuel declined an interview request to discuss his fundraising efforts. Asked why the mayor heavily relies on individuals and firms who do business with the city for campaign contributions, Emanuel spokeswoman Shannon Breymaier issued a statement.

"On Mayor Emanuel's first day in office, he enacted several executive orders that set the highest ethical standards in the city's history," Breymaier said. "These orders include a first-of-its-kind ban on mayoral contributions from lobbyists and a prohibition on mayoral contributions from contractors doing business with the city of Chicago."

Of course, we're sure these are just more attempts to "criminalize behavior that is normal"...right, Donna?


stizazz Ajax-1 Fri, 09/08/2017 - 23:30 Permalink

This time ON STEROID with an Israeli Jew as Mayor.

(((THEY))) became the Bolsheviks and destroyed Russia.
(((THEY))) fomented 2 World Wars and destroyed Europe.
(((THEY))) stole Palestine and destroyed the Middle East.
(((THEY))) took over the DEM and destroyed it.
(((THEY))) became the neocons that are destroying the REP.
(((THEY))) took over the FED and destroyed the US Dollar.
(((THEY))) took over Hollywood and destroyed our culture.
(((THEY))) took over Congress and are destroying America.

The saga WILL NOT stop. It's the ANTI-CHRIST spirit.

In reply to by Ajax-1

GUS100CORRINA gigadeath Fri, 09/08/2017 - 18:50 Permalink

Pay-To-Play: Chicago Tribune Blasts Rahm As Data Reveals 70% Of Donors Get Lucrative City Hall ContractsMy response: Another OBAMA protege schooled in corruption and immorality.There are pockets in America that are so utterly corrupt and filthy it makes me sick.Is it any wonder why GOD's patience is running thin. These STORMS and other signs are just warning shots across the bow.I expect a lot more signs to come in the days ahead unless America gets this crap straightened out. America needs to wake up and bring these career criminals to justice.

In reply to by gigadeath

Blankenstein yogibear Fri, 09/08/2017 - 20:11 Permalink

He was even married to the daugher of democrat political insider, 'Dick' Mell.  But demorat political ties are stronger in Chicago than familly ties.  Dick Mell didn't like how Blago played either, his daughter be damned.  BTW an interesting tidbit about Dick 'guns for me but not for thee' Mell. "He was also one of the authors of the 1982 Chicago handgun ban which was in effect until 2010 " "In 2007, Mell failed to re-register his extensive firearms collection, as required by Chicago's gun control law, a law which he helped to write. Mell, along with ChicagoMayor Richard M. Daley, proposed a one-month amnesty, where the gun registry would be re-opened.""Mell had claimed that thousands of Chicagoans were in his situation and would benefit, but just 25 people successfully registered guns during the "amnesty."

In reply to by yogibear

my new username Fri, 09/08/2017 - 18:35 Permalink

I guess it is too dangerous for them to cover the contributions he gets for making Chicago the epicenter of the Mexican drugs'n'guns trade, despite it being at the wrong end of the USA.

Francis Marx Fri, 09/08/2017 - 18:45 Permalink

Are people supposed to be shocked by this?Wake up. Been that way for some time. The "land where corruption has prevailed" as Jesus said about the USA to a approved visionary and stimatist.

EX-floor hedger Fri, 09/08/2017 - 18:48 Permalink

...HELLO ????...If you do your homework and dig just alittle bit.........Rahm was a huge fund raiser in 1989 for the previous knighted mayor, Richard M. Daley. His payback was to be crowned mayor when Richie stepped down........Talk about payback....

Blankenstein EX-floor hedger Fri, 09/08/2017 - 20:21 Permalink

And don't forget he was an aide to Slick Willie before returning to Chicago and becoming an investment banker, with no experience or education background in that field.  "The story of how the wiry, hyperkinetic 43-year-old made more than $16 million in just 2 1/2 years is a tale of money and power, of leverage and connections, of a stunningly successful conversion of moxie and a network of political contacts into cold, hard cash."…   

In reply to by EX-floor hedger

Blankenstein EX-floor hedger Fri, 09/08/2017 - 20:30 Permalink

Also, major Democratic donors were clients of Emanuel back when he worked at Wasserstein from 1998-2001(from same article)"and three months later took a job as a Chicago-based managing director for Wasserstein.""According to congressional disclosure statements, Emanuel received $16.2 million from Wasserstein, based on fees that the bank earned from eight clients.""Three of those clients were corporations controlled by major Democratic donors who developed relationships with Emanuel through their involvement in national party politics: Loral Space and Communications Ltd., headed by Schwartz, who celebrated his 71st birthday at the White House; Slim-Fast, headed by Abraham; and GenTek Inc., a telecommunications manufacturer headed by Paul Montrone."

In reply to by EX-floor hedger

hooligan2009 Fri, 09/08/2017 - 18:55 Permalink

looks like this low life canceorus piece of shit earns twice the money on "non-city" days whilst taking bribes, than he "earns" (read "slimes around") being "mayor" (read "corrupt libtard socialist copying the clintons and obama"