Group Files Residency Challenges Against Rahm Emanuel

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.

McKinley's effort is different than the objection from renowned election law attorney, Burt Odelson, who intends to file Friday afternoon.

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:

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.

[View: Residency challenge filed by Paul McKinley (.pdf)]

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