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Candidates Should Remove Secrecy From Secret Fund

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    NEWSLETTERS

    If For a Better Chicago won’t reveal where it’s getting the money to support pro-Rahm Emanuel city council candidates, well, maybe the candidates themselves should demand it.

     For a Better Chicago, which has raised $890,000 to promote Emanuel’s “reform” agenda, won a victory for government secrecy on Monday when the State Board of Elections ruled it doesn’t have to disclose the names of its donors. The fund is run by former Emanuel campaign manager Greg Goldner, whose past political associates also include convicted felons Don Tomczak and Al Sanchez.

    Rahm Reacts to Secret Fund Report

    [CHI] Rahm Reacts to Secret Fund Report
    The mayor-elect says the Chicago Tribune headline is misleading. (Published Monday, Mar 7, 2011)

    In today’s Sun-Times, Mark Brown explained how For A Better Chicago gamed the state’s election laws to escape public scrutiny:

    Ald. Lyle Supports Reform Agenda

    [CHI] Ald. Lyle Supports Reform Agenda
    Ald. Freddrenna Lyle (6th) says she has the support of Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel and doesn't expect Council Wars 2. (Published Saturday, Mar 5, 2011)

    Along with two of his business associates, David Smolensky and Rob Nash, Goldner formed For a Better Chicago as a not for profit corporation on Oct. 27, listing its purpose as “political.” Then on Dec. 28, they created For a Better Chicago PAC, and over the next two days moved $855,000 that had been raised by the corporation into the political action committee.

    Through this maneuver, Goldner asserts that it’s nobody’s business where he came up with the $855,000. That bugs me, as I reminded him Monday.

    Ald. Lyle: "I Expect Emanuel's Support"

    [CHI] Ald. Lyle: "I Expect Emanuel's Support"
    Ald. Freddrenna Lyle (6th) says she's spoken with Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel and says she has his support as she heads toward the April 5 runoff election. (Published Saturday, Mar 5, 2011)

    The organization’s lawyer, Michael Kasper, says For a Better Chicago is within its legal rights because it did not actually spend any of its funds on political candidates before Jan. 1, when a law aimed at forcing disclosure by non profit corporations was repealed in favor of new campaign donation limits. Of course, by slipping the $855,000 in ahead of the deadline, For a Better Chicago also evaded the new limits that would have prevented it from donating more than $10,000 to its PAC.

    We may never know where For a Better Chicago is getting its money, but we do know where the PAC is spending it. Here’s a list of candidates For a Better Chicago has endorsed in the aldermanic runoffs, and how much money, if any, is donated to their campaigns:

     15th: Toni Foulkes
     16th: JoAnn Thompson
     17th: Latasha Thomas       $15,000
     20th: Willie B. Cochran       $10,000
     24th: Michael Chandler
     25th: Danny Solis                 $10,000
     36th: John Rice                     $10,000
     38th: Timothy Cullerton       $10,000
     41st: Mary O’Connor
     43rd: Tim Egan
     50th: Debra Silverstein        $10,000

    In addition, 6th Ward Ald. Freddrenna Lyle got $10,000 from For A Better Chicago, even though she didn’t win the group’s endorsement. (Lyle returned the money.) And those are just the contributions through March 1, as listed on the State Board of Elections website.

    If you live in one of those wards, you should demand that the For a Better Chicago-backed candidates tell you where the money came from. And if they won’t, your vote is a secret, too.

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