The Man Behind Chicago’s Secret Political Fund

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Greg Goldner, the man behind For A Better Chicago, the secret fund set up to help Rahm Emanuel dominate the City Council, has a history of bending the rules of politics to help candidates.

For A Better Chicago is the pro-business PAC that’s using a loophole in the campaign finance laws to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars in anonymous donations and funnel the money to aldermanic candidates who support Emanuel’s agenda.

Emanuel said last week that he has no affiliation with the group, and asked that they make their funding sources available for scrutiny during a media availability at a grocery story.

But according to the Chicago Tribune, “[e]ight of the candidates endorsed by the group now face April 5 runoff elections, and since his victory, Emanuel has offered his own help to seven of them.”

“We’re very supportive of Rahm and what he wants to accomplish and want to continue to drive and push him to follow through — and help move those same agenda items through the City Council,” Goldner, now CEO of Resolute Consulting, told the Tribune. “His campaign commitments and positions are very similar to ours.”

Goldner began to make his name as a political operative in 1999, when he managed John Pope’s successful run for 10th Ward alderman. Pope, a 30-year-old Daley aide from Hegewisch, was little known in the neighborhood, but Daley wanted him in the seat so he could control the redevelopment of the U.S. Steel site. Although Goldner was campaign manager in name, the real boss was Al Sanchez, one of the founders of the Hispanic Democratic Organization, which has its roots in the 10th Ward. Pope’s opponents charged that Sanchez pressured city workers to work for Pope, and write overflowing garbage tickets to businesses that displayed his opponent’s signs.

For winning that election, Sanchez was promoted to head of Streets and San. Last month, he was sentenced to 30 months in prison for “rigging hiring to reward political workers.”

Goldner’s reward was a job as campaigner for Emanuel’s 2002 congressional race. In that election, city workers under the control of Water Department chief Donald Tomczak were forced to go door-to-door for Emanuel. They did the same thing for Daley’s 2003 re-election campaign, which was also managed by Goldner. Tomczak was eventually sentenced to prison for handing out promotions in exchange for political work.

So Goldner managed three campaigns that resulted in a Daley flunkey going to prison for forcing city workers to do political work. There’s no record that he complained about the illegal activity. Why should he have? It helped his candidates win.

Now, Goldner is once again involved in an ethically questionable political operation. Given his track record, he’ll succeed in electing a pro-Emanuel city council. And if anything illegal takes place, someone else will do the time.

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