One of the main organizers of the group "Voices of the Ex-Offenders" filed petitions Friday contending that Rahm Emanuel isn't a resident of Chicago and therefore cannot be on the ballot in the race for mayor.
His opponents have been making it an issue for weeks, but the first petitions objecting to Rahm Emanuel's residency qualification in his run for mayor have been filed.
Officials at the Chicago Board of Elections said the five petitions filed Wednesday afternoon follow the same format and contain the exact same language.
All of petitions contend the former White House Chief of Staff-turned-mayoral candidate hasn't lived in the city for the past year and seem to stem from a loose-knit coalition of street advocates and ex-felons calling themselves "Voices of the Ex-Offenders."
One of the chief organizers, Paul McKinley, was at Daley Plaza for the annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony trying to recruit other Chicagoans to join the cause.
"If we break the law, there are consequences, and Rahm Emanuel is breaking the law," he said, adding that it sets a terrible precedent for a "law breaker" to be Chicago mayor.
"If he breaks the law, and he's moving to the second-highest office in Illinois, well by God, who's got to set the standard?" McKinley asked.
He said his goal is to recruit 1,000 petitioners.
Odelson said he'll file on behalf on three Chicagoans from different socio-economic, geographic and racial backgrounds.
"If it was Burt Odelson or Jeff Goldblatt (running for mayor), we would be off the ballot faster than you can say 'Jeff Goldblatt,'" he said, adding that because the case is about Rahm Emanuel, it "rises almost above the law, which is a challenge to me."
Although he was hired by the Meeks campaign to turn in petitions and help with Meeks' campaign finance disclosures, Odelson insists that Meeks is not behind the objection.
Meanwhile, the Emanuel Campaign on Tuesday night began circulating its first e-mail regarding the residency question to supporters:
You've probably seen the reports this week that say that a lawyer is planning to file a challenge claiming that Rahm is not a Chicago resident in an attempt to knock him off the ballot. That's after more than 90,000 of you signed petitions saying that he should be a candidate for Mayor.
You know the facts: Rahm was born in Chicago's Albany Park, he raised his family here, he owns a home here, his car is registered here and he votes here. There's no question that he's a Chicago resident.
Make no mistake: political games are being played to limit your choices for Mayor.
And what for? To continue the same old backroom politics that have gone on in Chicago for too long.
The editorial boards of the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Tribune, as well as three former Presidents of the Chicago Bar Association, have weighed in to say that Rahm is a resident and should be allowed to run.
The Chicago Tribune wrote, "We've heard the arguments and feel confident Emanuel is firmly and legally rooted to Chicago."
And the Sun-Times stated, "But the bottom line is clear: Emanuel is a real Chicagoan. It would be a travesty if the courts said anything but."
Please share with your friends and family members so that they have the facts to respond to the distortions that will continue to air against Rahm.
I'm counting on you to make sure the facts reach farther than the fiction - and ensure that Chicago's next mayor is chosen by the voters alone.
Can you forward this email to five family members and friends?
Scott Fairchild, Campaign Manager
Chicago for Rahm
Emanuel is one of 20 people who filed petitions to get their names on February's ballot. Mayor Richard Daley announced Sept. 7 that he would not seek a seventh term as Chicago's chief executive.
Emanuel owns a home in the city, but he leased it to a renter when he and his family moved to Washington, D.C. to work in the White House. That renter, Rob Halpin, is also running for mayor.
Chicago Board of Elections Chairman Langdon Neale in September said that Emanuel is likely to survive any residency challenge, comparing the question to that of a soldier.
"You don't have to live there. It's about intent," he said.