Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Daley Can Take $1.1 Million With Him

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Mayor Richard Daley reflects on his 22 years in office and what's next after he steps down on Monday. (Published Thursday, May 12, 2011)

    Unlike his brothers, lawyer Michael and banker Bill, Mayor Richard M. Daley didn’t use the family name to amass wealth. He used it to amass power. But now, the mayor has a chance to convert his power into wealth. Which is what being a Chicago politician is all about, after all.

    Because he chose not to run for re-election, Daley still has $1.1 million in his campaign fund. In 1998, the General Assembly banned politicians from converting leftover campaign money for personal use. But, of course, the law included a grandfather clause, so it didn’t affect any of the politicians voting on it. The goody-goody sponsors, Barack Obama and Kirk Dillard, went along with the amendment, because they knew that was the only way to pass the bill.

    WBEZ’s Sam Hudzik asked Daley whether he planned to cash out at the end of his term, and got this answer: “I don’t know yet.”

    As Hudzik pointed out, Daley won’t need the money: His pension is $180,000 a year, and he’s expected to earn up to $50,000 for a speech. And since Daley has always been more interested in power than money, preserving his campaign fund will allow him to stay in the game he loves:

    “The mayor could also keep his campaign account open for as long as he wants, and continue to dole it out to candidates he supports: an easy way for a retired politician to make sure current politicians return his calls,” Hudzik writes.

    The big pension, the security detail, the million-dollar campaign fund. Daley likes to say that being the mayor of Chicago is the best job in the world, but being the former mayor looks like an even better job.