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Candidates Should Remove Secrecy From Secret Fund

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Candidates Should Remove Secrecy From Secret Fund
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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.

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

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.

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its funds on political candidates before Jan. 1, when a law aimed at forcing disclosure by non profit corporations was repealed in favor of new campaign donation limits.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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Related Topics Rahm Emanuel, Fredderenna Lyle
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