Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

The Inaugural Loophole

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    NEWSLETTERS

    We all knew there had to be a loophole in Rahm Emanuel’s inauguration invitation. In politics, unlike in the Gospels, there’s always a loophole that allows the camel to slip through the eye of a needle. And blogger Kathy Posner has found this one. Emanuel is charging up to $50,000 a ticket for “sponsors” to his May 16 swearing-in. According to the solicitation letter, he won’t take any money from lobbyists, or donors who have “done over $10,000 of business within any 12 consecutive months during the preceding four years” with the city.

    But, as Posner points out, the letter doesn’t say anything about the next four years.

    So who would spend this kind of money just to attend a party with Rahm? A company that wants to do business with Chicago in the future! That was the restriction missing from the invitation. Maybe if they had added the line that anyone who contributes to the inaugural can not do business with the City of Chicago for 12 consecutive months in the upcoming four-year period, I would not be so suspicious.

    To be more specific, his donors should be banned from doing more than $10,000 worth of business with the city over any 12-month period. If they were good enough not to do business with the Daley Administration, they should be good enough not to do business with the Emanuel Administration. But those restrictions would make the tickets tough to move.

    Posner provides a list of the seven campaign co-chairs. They’re not necessarily buying the tickets, but they’re all Emanuel contributors, so you’d hope they’d be subject to the same rules. One of the co-chairs is Eric Lefkofsky, a co-founder of Groupon.

    “Groupon has done business with Navy Pier in a coupon deal for Winterfest last winter that was worth more than $10,000, but I guess that McPier does not count as a sister agency,” Posner notes.

    True, the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority is not part of the city’s government, but its board is jointly appointed by the mayor of Chicago and the governor of Illinois. So there’s another loophole. We’ll keep you posted as we hear about more.

    Buy this book! Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland's book, Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President , is available Amazon. Young Mr. Obama includes reporting on President Obama's earliest days in the Windy City, covering how a presumptuous young man transformed himself into presidential material. Buy it now!