Despite Calls For His Resignation, Mayor Emanuel Raised Big Cash in December
by Claudia Morell – claudia@aldertrack.com

In his first big fundraising push since the mayoral election, and despite the political fallout he has received from his handling of the Laquan McDonald case, Mayor Rahm Emanuel collected more than $100,000 in political donations last month. According to State Board of Elections’ filings, all of the 56 donation checks he collected were dated on the 11th and 21st of December, suggesting he held a year-end fundraiser with some of the city’s most prominent business leaders.

John Bucksbaum, founder of Bucksbaum Retail Properties, one of the firms behind the massive one-million-square-foot New City commercial retail complex on Clybourn Avenue in Lincoln Park, gave the maximum contribution of $5,400. His wife, Jacolyn, donated another $5,400.

Other notable contributions in the $5,000 range to the mayor’s personal campaign fund came from Scott Cochrane, president of Cochrane Enterpriseswhich operates several bars in downtown Urbana frequented by University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign students; New Congress, LLC, a private company created by Michael Moyer for the Congress Theater mixed-use redevelopment plan; and attorney Thomas Raines.

Five employees from the hedge fund firm Grosvenor Capital Management donated a total of $7,500. The company’s CEO, Michael Sacks, is a close ally of Emanuel, contributing regularly to the mayor’s personal campaign fund and super PACs. And as head of World Business Chicago’s board of directors, Sacks plays an influential role as a liaison between the mayor’s office and the city’s business community.

Several Chicago-area executives made donations in the $1,000 to $2,000 range, including Fred Eychaner of NewsWeb Corporation, George Moncada of Marquette Bank, John A. Canning, Jr. of Madison Dearborn Partners, Craig Duchossois of the Duchossois Group, Inc., Antonio Gracias of Valor Equity Partners, Dean Harrison of Northwestern Memorial Healthcare, Larry Richman of The Private Bank, and Donald Wilson of DRW Trading Group.

But Emanuel’s fundraising boom fell short of Ald. Brendan Reilly’s collection. The Vice Mayor reported nearly $200,000 in political donations over the same month, and the 82 donations he gathered are also divided among two dates, the 9th or the 22nd, suggesting he held an end of the year fundraiser.

Ald. Reilly got significant support from the Melmans, the family that owns Lettuce Entertain You, a restaurant company that owns about a hundred high end and fast-food restaurants, mostly in the Chicagoland area. Reilly reported a total of $22,000 in contributions from the Melmans. He received a $5,000 contribution from the company, in addition to reporting $5,000 checks from the company’s CEO Richard Melman and his two sons, Robert “R.J” and Jerrod. Their attorney, Jay Stieber, gave $2,000. The younger Melmans operate one of the company’s newer restaurants in River North,Hub 51.

South Loop Alderman Pat Dowell (3) also had a fundraising blitz at the end of 2015, reporting nearly $65,000 in new contributions in December alone.

Other Notable Contributions:

  • Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg donated $10,000 to the Leadership for Education Equity’s political PAC. The nonpartisan, nonprofit organization is affiliated with Teach for America, and the local Illinois chapter uses its campaign chest to back former members running for office.
  • Black Dog Corporation, a minority owned petroleum distribution firm, gave money to 4th Ward Ald. Will Burns ($1,000), 14th Ward Alderman Ed Burke($1,500), and 34th Ward Alderman Carrie Austin ($1,000).
  • The law firm that filed a class action lawsuit against the city for improperly issuing automated red-light and speed camera tickets, Cherry, Myron M. & Associates, donated $1,000 to Ald. Ed Burke (14). In the lawsuit Simpson v. City of Chicago, the company filed in 2015, attorneys claimed the city illegally collected hundreds of millions of dollars in fines from traffic violations caught on street cameras, because it failed to mail second notices to drivers.
  • Former Cook County Assessor, Thomas M. Tulley, donated $1,500 to Ald. Brian Hopkins and $5,000 to Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios. Tulley transferred the funds from his old political campaign, Citizens for Tulley, which according to his latest Quarterly filings is nearly $280,000 in the red, as all of the money in the campaign fund are personal loans.