Thursday, March 19, 2015

'Dark Money' replaces the envelope under the table in Chicago election politics

Rahm's lap-dog Aldermen Reilly (42nd); Pawar (47th) and Smith (43rd) try and pull a slick campaign stunt and  show Chuy up by delivering books for him to "audit". When Rahm says bark, they go "arf". But Chuy's auditors won't find the "dark money" in those books. 
Look out kid,
They keep it all hid.
--Bob Dylan

In the days before Citizens United and super-duperPACs like Rahm's Chicago Forward, you could bribe a Chicago politician by simply slipping him an envelope under the table in Booth #1 at  Counsellors Row, right across the street from City Hall. A week later, you had yourself a fat city contract or a lucrative piece of real estate. My, my, how things have changed. It's all legit now.

Take the great slick ball handler and even slicker businessman Earvin "Magic" Johnson, for example. Last year, Rahm's hand-picked school board awarded one of Johnson's companies — SodexoMAGIC — an $80 million contract to privatize custodial and facilities management for Chicago Public Schools facilities. Lots of janitors lost their jobs in the schools, the unions said nary a word, and every principal and teacher in the city now has a horror tale to tell about the state of their bathrooms and trash-laden facilities.

Rahm's elite donors
Then, just in time for the elections, Magic and his partner Mark Walter handed over a quarter of a million dollars to Rahm's already-bloated campaign war chest. No envelopes. No donuts and coffee. Just a clean legal deal.

The Trib reports:
Four years ago, Emanuel came into office promising to end the "insiders game" that benefits only the well-connected. But the "Magic" Johnson relationship is just the latest example of a hallmark of Emanuel's governing style — his deep reliance on political cash from business interests who can count on City Hall or the mayor himself to help them.
Now, don't get me wrong. Chicago is still revered as Number #1 when it comes to corruption and lots of envelope-passing still goes on as in the case of Redflex and the red-light camera scandal, from which Rahm has neatly distanced himself.

But now we're more likely to see a group like Greg Goldner's Illinoisans for Growth and Opportunity (who could possibly oppose "growth and opportunity"?) come into town with a duffle bag load of cash to be legally dumped into various campaign funds. Of course that money doesn't have to be immediately spent on campaigns, and when a politician walks away from it all, he gets to take it all with him with only minimal restrictions. Disgraced Rep. Aaron Schock is doing just that with $3.3M this week.

S-T's Mark Brown calls it "dark money".
Four years after helping wealthy donors secretly invest $1 million in Chicago aldermanic candidates who shared Rahm Emanuel’s policy views, political consultant Greg Goldner announced Wednesday he is managing a new group of “progressive Democrats” that expects to plow $20 million into influencing Democratic state legislators “to support budget compromise.”
And by "influencing" he means... And by "budget compromise," he means Democrats cutting a deal with Gov. Rauner to support his cuts to public education, transportation and health care.

As you might expect, none of these specifics were mentioned during Monday's mayoral debate between Rahm and Chuy. You remember, that was where Carol Marin pushed both candidates for "specifics." The press was all over Chuy for not giving more "specifics" and for saying he wanted to see the books first. Funny, Rahm never mentioned all this "dark money" in his list of specifics. After all, it's hidden, but legit. And Chuy won't find any of it in the books.

1 comment:

  1. I'm from Michigan and Magic Johnson is revered here as a kid from Lansing that became a star athlete and wealthy businessman.

    His company SodexoMAGIC has been linked to corruption in Chicago and now they have contracts with several large districts in Michigan-including Lansing, Flint and Saginaw.

    Is Magic corrupt? Should his business practices be investigated?


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