If you donate cash to Rahm Emanuel's re-election campaign, expect to find a gift-wrapped cheesecake on your doorstep.
The Chicago mayor doled out really big money -- about $10,000 in total -- on cheesecake thank-you's to campaign contributors over nine days in April, the Tribune reports. It's an Emanuel election cycle strategy-turned-tradition: Since October 2010, when he first made a play for City Hall's highest office, he invested upwards of $51,000 on decadent dessert deliveries from Eli's Cheesecake Company, and his targets aren't just political donors.
"He's wagered cheesecakes. He's paid off debts with cheesecakes. He sends cheesecakes to corporate CEOs he's trying to romance to come to Chicago,” says Emanuel rep Pete Giangreco, an apparent soundbite machine, adding: "Cheesecakes are the currency of Rahm.”
The cheesecake delivery has been the mayor's modus operandi stretching back to his six-year stint as U.S. Rep for the 5th Congressional District, where Eli's was headquartered. All told, he's given the bakery over $83,000 throughout his political career, adding up to around 2,800 cheesecakes. (Gym membership not included.)
Eli's now bills the Emanuel campaign on a quarterly basis, says owner Marc Shulman, observing: "We were the flip side to the dead fish. He wanted to send something from the district, and the cake became very popular and it became ... his signature item."
Emanuel, whose 2015 campaign war chest has ballooned to $8.9 million, mails the calorie-packed cakes only to donors who've offered the maximum $5,300 permitted under state law, according to the Trib. Quoth Giangreco: "If you max out, you get a cheesecake. It's the most expensive cheesecake you'll ever buy."
No word on whether Rahm's richest funders -- the ones who contribute far more than $5,300 -- score special limited-edition cheesecakes sprinkled with diamonds, real gold flakes and caviar dreams.