On day of big Emanuel fundraiser, word of a new PAC to back the mayor [Chicago Tribune :: ]
(Chicago Tribune (IL) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) June 20--Even as Mayor Rahm Emanuel prepared for a big fundraiser tonight featuring former President Bill Clinton as his special guest, word spread of a new effort to boost Emanuel's re-election chances in 2015.
A new super political action committee formed by Emanuel allies will advocate for him and his agenda in his re-election campaign, as well as aldermanic candidates who support his position on the issues.
Becky Carroll, former spokeswoman for the Chicago Public Schools, is chairman and CEO of the new Chicago Forward PAC. The Chicago Teachers Union has been Emanuel's most vocal political opponent heading into the 2015 elections.
The new PAC, first disclosed by Crain's Chicago Business, is allowed to receive unlimited amounts of money. Unlike the PAC, Emanuel faces donation limits.
Carroll said the independent expenditure PAC will be involved in "issue advocacy" and by law cannot give money directly to Emanuel or aldermanic candidates. She said the PAC will disclose the names of donors.
The group's website said Chicago Forward "will be actively engaged in the 2015 Municipal elections supporting candidates who demonstrate a shared commitment" to Emanuel's priorities and will engage in "issue awareness, voter mobilization and independent engagement activities."
Clinton is the keynote speaker at tonight's River North fundraiser for Emanuel's primary campaign fund.
Emanuel, who worked as a senior adviser in the Clinton White House, has benefitted politically from the former president before. Clinton was featured at a closed-door event that raised $250,000 for Emanuel's first mayoral bid a month before the election in 2011. And a week ago, Emanuel participated in a Chicago fundraiser to support a potential presidential bid by Hillary Clinton.
Tickets for this evening's fundraising event at the Studio Paris in River North include a $500 general admission option for a "guest," though contributing the legal maximum of $5,300 per person means a "sponsor" designation complete with a photo with Clinton and participation in a VIP reception.
Emanuel's fundraising invite also lists a $25,000 ticket to serve as a "chair" for the event and $10,600 to serve as a "host." Both of those amounts are in excess of the maximum contribution for an individual under state law.
Emanuel campaign spokesman Peter Giangreco said the $25,000 amount to be chair of the event was a threshold for an individual to "raise" donations. That campaign fundraising tactic, commonly known as "bundling," gives special credit to those who raise the highest amounts of money for the mayor's political fund.
In response to a Tribune story last year about dozens of lawyers employed by Chicago law firms with city contracts contributing tens of thousands of dollars to the mayor's campaign, Emanuel's top political adviser John Kupper insisted that the campaign did not engage in bundling. Kupper said the distinction was that multiple checks were not delivered by a single firm or individual.
"The reality is the Emanuel campaign doesn't engage in bundling -- all his contributions are individual contributions," Kupper said in November. "There is no bundling."
Asked how crediting individuals for raising amounts in excess of $25,000 for Emanuel's fundraiser with Clinton was not considered bundling, campaign spokesman Giangreco argued that those individuals only would line up the contributions, not deliver them.
"We don't bundle. The person who raises the money makes the asks and the other people from the (campaign) staff then follow up and collect checks from those people," Giangreco said
"They make the ask, but they do not collect the checks. The asks come on the front end and then they either email those people a link where they can make a contribution or those people bring their check to the event. It's pretty standard practice."
The invitation does not list the perks that come with being a chair for the event, but instead says "details forthcoming." A notch below chair is host, a title that can be earned for raising $10,600. Giangreco said those guests, who also get to partake in a VIP reception and the photo line, typically will represent couples, even though it's listed as a single position on the invite.
"That's $5,300 for two people," he said. "Generally, it's couples who each write a check for $5,300 and $5,300, but someone could also just bring someone with them."
Clinton's visit to raise money for the mayor closes out a three-week period in which Emanuel participated in a fundraiser for the super political action committee Ready for Hillary, a group formed to assist a potential 2016 White House bid by former first lady, senator and secretary of state Hillary Clinton.
Last week, Hillary Clinton returned to her hometown as part of the early promotion of her new book, "Hard Choices," where she made a paid speech to food marketers at McCormick Place and sat down for an interview with Emanuel at a special Chicago Ideas Week event.
Emanuel was an early supporter of a Hillary Clinton 2016 presidential bid after spending the 2008 primary largely sitting on the fence between her and then-home state Sen. Barack Obama. Obama later tapped Emanuel as his first presidential chief of staff.
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