Thursday, April 7, 2011

Hey, Big Spender!

We're just amazed at how much money the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce had available to give away during the runoffs.  It supported ten candidates with tens of thousands of dollars.  They spent $94,000 in four races on the North Side alone!  From Progress Illinois:

"The Chamber made endorsements in 10 out of the 14 run-off races. Five of their picks won and five lost. The group was heavily involved in several high-profile races on the North Side, spending $30,500 on Tim Egan in the 43rd, $15,000 on John Garrido in the 45th, $39,000 on Molly Phelan in the 46th, and $19,500 on Ald. Bernard Stone in the 50th Ward. All lost."

The article also mentioned that Machine-backed candidates did poorly in the runoff.  Can we all say "parking meters" together?  They only have to look at their own reflections to know what set off a large chunk of the Chicago voters.

Update:  There's an article in the City Room blog called "Chicago runoff muscle: Who's backing whom and with how much cash?" with some interesting numbers. It was posted a day before the election.


  1. I wonder what was it for them to the tune of $39K in our ward.

  2. Lovely to see how they wasted so much money.

  3. So here's a naive question: What are the specific rules regarding political money received, especially if you lose an election. I know you can hold on to the funds and use them later should you decide to run again, but what if you don't. Is that money just yours or is it still set aside for election activities? Is there a D2 post-election to see what cash a candidate has left? Thanks!

  4. I don't know squat, so correct me if I'm wrong. But I'm guessing in this city, they get to hold that money over the head of the next budding political office candidate and make them jump through hoops and make certain promises in order to gain that financial support.

  5. Falis,

    theoretically a candidate could pay themselves a salary out of their political fund. They would have to pay normal taxes on it.

    Also campaign disclosures still have to be filed regularly as long as a "committee" is active.

    When they come out I'm sure UU will have comments about them. It will be interesting to see the various contributions and expenses of each campaign.

  6. They should've used those monies to attract more businesses to the City, like they're supposed to do.

  7. I don't really like Progress Illinois. That is all.

  8. Disgusting attempt to interfere in our election by the Chamber... which never before seemed interested in business development in Ward 46.

    I noticed an item in the Inside Booster paper about Wal-Mart looking somewhat seriously at the space where the former Pet Smart was on Broadway just N. of Diversey, next to the closing Border's there.

    It made me curious as to any connection of Wal-Mart promoter David Herro's large contributions to Phelan - and to Ald. Tunney (he otherwise mainly gives to radical Right-Wing Congressional candidates).

    Can't quite figure out a direct connection except that other lakefront alderman might have something to say about a Wal-Mart opening up there, despite the 44th Ward Alderman's usual prerogative.

    I'm sure IP or someone will tell us if these dots are connectible only in my conspiratorial imagination .... I'm not a Wal-Mart fan, but also hate to see large empty retail spaces in Uptown or Lakeview.

  9. I wish we had organized an Uptown pub crawl for this week, or a 46 ward one, to celebrate the hope and change for our 'hood!

  10. Truman Square Neighbors has a meet and greet scheduled at Fat Cat next Wednesday, 6pm to 8pm. That is, if you like toasting with your neighbors face to face. Bring a neighborhood friend.

  11. With all of the needs in our ward, this money goes to buy elections? That's just sickening! I believe that most politicians run with the best of intentions...but it's hard to keep your integrity when so much money is being thrown at you.

  12. Froggy - weeknights are usually out of the picture for me :( but maybe I can make it a little towards the 8-oclock time.

  13. BP,

    The Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce is a pro BIG business organization. They tend not to look out for the interests of the small business owner.

    Why did they go so heavily for Phelan?

    My guess is they saw an open race and decided to see if they could have some influence. Phelan lost whatever chance she had at getting the local leftie organization support when she backed O'Brien over Preckwinkle. Couple that with her machine ties and her work as a real estate tax attorney and the Chamber likely thought they had found a candidate who was pro their kinda business.

    Now the state website shows Phelan taking in $276,573.20. I don't know if there are many doubling contribution mistakes in there, but even if it's $225,000 it's a veritable monsoon of outside money.

    Now a whole lot of her cash came from real estate interests. That can probably largely be accounted for by her being a real estate tax attorney. Think of emails going out and people calling up their friends. That's as much networking as anything else.

    It will be interesting to look at the final numbers when they come out in the state disclosures. My impression is that coupled with her machine support the amount of outside money she took in actually hurt her campaign.

    I've written a longish piece on the campaign, but I won't publish it for awhile. It's a "crit eek" of how the campaigns were run.

    Let's just say I find two relatively minor mistakes in the Cappleman campaign and well over a dozen minor and major mistakes in Campaign Phelan.

    One example taking the $1500 contribution from Ed Burke. Campaign Phelan should have called in an exorcist to burn that check.

    I was an altar boy in my Catholic youth which is the first step to the Priesthood. I guess I could have burned it for her, but it might have come back then. Better some old Priest who's battled Satan for a generation or so.

  14. Speaking (indirectly) about Chamber of Commerce-type support -- the Tribune's editorial on Thursday "Out With The Old" was a bit odd -

    It omitted mention of 46th Ward candidate James Cappleman's victory over Tribune-endorsed (not for any stated rational reason) Molly Phelan.

    Also, it was telling that in this editorial the Tribune derided the idea of solving the city's financial problems, as some elected officials have suggested, by "cutting out middle-management".... Although this might be part of a solution, it is certainly not THE solution, and management in government and business cannot always be compared with the same metric (I think I can already hear the thoughtful libertarian Rob Ross typing a contrary view of this....)

    That was the silly cure-all for city finances that Tribune favorite Molly Phelan touted over and over during her campaign, and I believe in the Tribune endorsement session.

    Strange how the Tribune overlooked that non-serious little non-solution and endorsed her anyway. The most striking thing about the Tribune's original Phelan endorsement was that it gave no substantive reasons to vote for her.

    For me, the political endorsements of the Tribune continue to be the least credible part of the newspaper.