Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is getting campaign cash, prior to his re-election bid in 2015, from real estate developers who are counting on his administration’s approval to build multimillion-dollar projects, according to a Chicago Tribune report on Sunday.
While the mayor has not taken any political donations from city employees, owners of companies with city contracts, and lobbyists in an effort to build trust in the public and public office, he is allegedly accepting money from real estate developers’ businesses that are looking for tax breaks, building permits, zoning changes, and liquor licenses from the Chicago City Council. With the Chicago City Council under Rahm Emanuel, these real estate developers - who are putting money into Emanuel’s re-election campaign’s bank – will likely see their goals of expansion in Chicago and their financial dreams realized – with the City Council’s assistive actions.
The Chicago Tribune report asserts that at least 26 such-donors have added more than $142,000 to Rahm Emanuel’s campaign fund. The 26 or more financial donors have ties to four developers.
Not long ago, the reports claimed that Emanuel already had $5 million stacked up for his 2015 re-election effort in Chicago. Now, that figure has reportedly risen to $6.2 million in campaign funds.
The report quotes John Kupper, Emanuel’s political adviser, defending the developers’ massive donations. He emailed the newspaper and said, “First, these are legal contributions. Second, the mayor does not take anything for granted relative to his election campaigns.”
Yet, the facts are blatantly clear. The report gives details - such as one involving the John Buck Company. The company wants to build two Loop skyscrapers and has its plans before the city now. Two months ago, ten employees gave Rahm Emanuel’s campaign $53,000. With the city’s approval, the John Buck Company will build a 37-story glass office tower at 151 North Franklin Street as well as a 42-story residential building at 200 North Michigan Avenue.
Personally, the president of the company, John A. Buck gave Emanuel $5,300 on Dec. 6, 2013 – the maximum allowed for an individual contribution under state law. On Dec. 11, 2013, John Buck Company’s zoning application for the proposed building on North Franklin Street was introduced to the Chicago City Council. After that, the John Buck Company-related donations piled up. Within a week, eight John Buck Company employees gave the maximum-allowed donations to Emanuel. Later in December, another employee donated another $5,300 to Emanuel. And for good measure, Kathleen Buck - John Buck’s wife – kicked in another $5,300 to help Emanuel get re-elected.
Do the math: that’s $58,300 to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s campaign fund from persons connected to a firm that wants to do real estate development in Chicago.
There have been previous reports of other developers contributing to Rahm Emanuel’s campaign fund, also.
Though it is admirable that Mayor Rahm Emanuel does not accept donations from lobbyists, city employees, and owners of businesses who do business with the City of Chicago, maybe the mayor should have never gone as far as suggesting that he was going to build trust in the public and public office. Because where potential real estate developers are concerned in Chicago, there is the appearance of Chicago politics - and Illinois politics - as usual.