Wednesday, April 15 was not only Tax Day, but also Illinois Campaign Finance Reports Day, requiring the hundreds of Chicago political campaigns to report how they spent their campaign money during the 2015 election cycle between January 1 and March 31, 2015. While there’s still a great deal more digging to do, Aldertrack took a close look at how sitting alderman assisted newly-elected aldermen’s campaigns.
2nd Ward Alderman-elect Brian Hopkins received big support from Ald. Brendan Reilly (43), including $5,000 in direct campaign contributions and $46,713.02 dollars worth of phone banking and mailers to win the general election and subsequent runoff. Meanwhile, only one alderman, Ald. Harry Osterman (48) supported his runoff challenger, Alyx Pattison, with a contribution of $500. Both 2nd Ward runoff candidates spent well over $300,000, making the 2nd Ward runoff one of the most expensive aldermanic races of 2015.
7th Ward Alderman-elect Gregory Mitchell didn’t get any financial support from Council members, unions or PACs, but he managed to make a $20,000 personal loan from September and $3,890 in contributions last through the runoff where he beat incumbent Ald. Natashia Holmes. Between January and March, Mitchell reported spending only $28,174.45, mostly on mailers and rent. To compare, Holmes reported receiving close to $50,000 in cash contributions and services, including $2,500 from Ald. Ed Burke’s (14) Burnham Committee. Ald. Holmes spent $31,779.85 in the last quarter. Her biggest expenses were legal fees, hall rentals and mailers.
11th Ward Alderman-elect Patrick Daley Thompson reported receiving $2,500 from Ald. Danny Solis (25), $1,500 from Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30), $1,000 from Ald. Harry Osterman (48), and $1,000 from Ald. Ed Burke’s Burnham Committee. Thompson’s opponent, John Kozlar, did not receive any contributions from sitting Council members. Thompson reported spending $358,781.75 in the first quarter. Kozlar spent $18,645.77 in the same period.
15th Ward Alderman-elect Raymond Lopez did not get help from any of the 50 sitting aldermen until he was forced into a runoff against Rafael Yañez, a close ally of mayoral candidate Jesus “Chuy” Garcia. Lopez, who is also the 15th Ward Democratic Committeeman, reported donations from Ald. Brendan Reilly ($2,500), Ald. Tom Tunney ($5,000), Ald. James Cappleman ($500), Ald. Ed Burke($3,000), Ald. Mike Zalewski ($500) and the late Ald. JoAnn Thompson ($1,000). Yañez received $4,000 from one Progressive Caucus alderman, Rick Munoz (22) and over $10,000 from various unions.
17th Ward Alderman-elect David Moore still has not filed his quarterly report, according to state records.
18th Ward Alderman-elect Derrick Curtis, who is also the 18th Ward Democratic Committeeman, did not get any financial help from sitting aldermen. His opponent, incumbent Ald. Lona Lane, received $1,500 from Ald. Tom Tunney and $500 from Ald. Walter Burnett (27).
24th Ward Alderman-elect Michael Scott, Jr. reported receiving $2,500 from Ald. Tom Tunney, $1,000 from Ald. Michelle Harris (8), and $1,500 from Ald. Ed Burke’s Burnham Committee. Ald. Jason Ervin’s wife, Melissa Conyears, acted as Scott’s campaign manager, but her services are not listed as compensated for in Scott’s expense report. Scott’s opponent, Vetress Boyce, did not receive any financial support from sitting aldermen.
29th Ward Alderman-elect Chris Taliaferro received an even $999 of contributions from Ald. Nicholas Sposato (36/38). Taliaferro also reported reimbursing $333.60 for postage and food to former 29th Ward Ald. Isaac Carothers, who was indicted on federal corruption charges in 2009. Meanwhile, incumbent and losing Ald. Deborah Graham received thousands of dollars in cash contributions from fellow aldermen Carrie Austin ($1,000), Tom Tunney ($1,000), Pat Dowell ($1,000) and Michelle Harris ($1,500).
35th Ward Alderman-elect Carlos Ramirez-Rosa was the only challenger to beat an incumbent aldermen in the general election. Ramirez-Rosa did not receive financial assistance from Council members but he reported receiving close to $44,000 in direct contributions from unions. His most frequent expense was transportation, with over three pages worth of Uber charges. Ousted Ald. Rey Colonreported $5,000 from Ald. Danny Solis and $1,000 from Ald. Ariel Reboyras.
36th Ward Alderman-elect Gilbert Villegas got $5,000 dollars worth of telephone polling from Ald. Joe “Proco” Moreno (1). While Ald. Nick Sposato (38) also endorsed Villegas, he did not report any in-kind or cash contributions in the quarterly reports. In contrast, Ald. Ray Suarez (31) put $20,000 into Villegas’ opponent Omar Aquino’s campaign two days after the general election. Suarez and Aquino shared a campaign manager and were both backed by Cook County Democratic Party Chairman Joe Berrios.
41st Ward Alderman-elect Anthony Napolitano did not report assistance from sitting aldermen, but he did report a $1,000 contribution from the 43rd Ward Republicans. The losing incumbent, Ald. Mary O’Connor, received $2,500 from Ald. Brendan Reilly, $5,000 from Ald. Tom Tunney, and $999 from Ald. Walter Burnett. Reilly also reported providing $2,525.70 worth of phone banking services to O’Connor ahead of the runoff.
Some other interesting contributions:
The political committee for the late Ald. JoAnn Thompson (16) reported two transfers at the end of March: $1,000 to Ald.-elect Raymond Lopez and $1,000 to Stephanie Coleman, who has not conceded the 16th Ward race to Ald. Toni Foulkes.
Ald. Deborah Mell did not make the same mistake twice. Mell (33) reported receiving $9,838 of “in kind” contributions for rent, postage and mailers from the 33rd Democratic Ward Organization, which her father, former Ald. Richard Mell, oversees. Last quarter Ald. Mell reported receiving similar contributions, but listed her father, a registered lobbyist with the city, as the donor. This time she reported the contributions from the Ward Democrats, instead of her father. Mell’s former opponent, Tim Meegan and labor-backed group, United Working Families, filed an ethics complaint and made it a major campaign issue for weeks. Mell eventually resolved the issue by saying it was a clerical error: the donation was from the Ward organization.
- Michael Alvarez, City Hall lobbyist and Metropolitan Water Reclamation Commissioner, donated $44,500 to 22 incumbent aldermen and one alderman-elect from his campaign committee this past quarter. In 2013, Mayor Rahm Emanuel took some heat for accepting campaign contributions from Alvarez right after enacting new ethics rules on campaign contributions. He eventually returned the money. Alvarez is up for re-election in 2016.