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Republicans Tue Sep 04 2012

Do Major Romney Donors Like Rahm More Than the Chicago Republican Party?

chicago republican partyOn Sunday, the Chicago Republican Party called on Rahm Emanuel to cancel the speech he will give tonight at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC. In a statement, Party Chairman Adam Robinson wrote that it would be inappropriate for the mayor to leave Chicago while the city was still dealing with a looming Chicago Teachers Union strike and a seemingly never-ending murder epidemic, and demanded that he "provide immediate, visible and specific leadership to address the twin crises facing our city."

Originally, Rahm planned to arrive in Charlotte on Tuesday and stay through Friday. But yesterday, he announced that he would cut his trip short and return to Chicago on Wednesday night -- denying that his new plans had anything to do with public pressure.

While the Chicago GOP makes a valid point about the mayor's priorities, there might be another underlying reason why the group is so eager to attack him: Rahm Emanuel gets more time, money, and attention from the rich donors funding Mitt Romney's presidential campaign than they do.

As Ben Joravsky and Mick Dumke report in the Reader, Rahm frequently meets with bankers, CEOs, and other wealthy individuals who have donated to Political Action Committees supporting prominent Republican figures such as Mitt Romney's Restore Our Future Super PAC and Karl Rove's American Crossroads PAC. These donors include Goldman Sachs managing partner Muneer Satter, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan, and Chicago-based Citadel Investment Group founder and CEO Ken Griffin [UPDATE: a correction follows at the end of this article.]. Griffin himself donated $100,000 to the mayor's successful mayoral campaign. He has also donated $1.5 million to David and Charles Koch's Americans for Prosperity PAC and $500,000 to Stand for Children Illinois.

Chicago Tribune's Melissa Harris noted in the introduction to her interview with Griffin that Stand for Children Illinois is "an education-reform group that helped win Chicago a longer school day and limited the chances of a Chicago teachers strike." In his article about what led up to the strike authorization vote, GB's Ramsin Canon explained that "Stand for Children co-founder Jonah Edelman famously bragged at a conference that they used access to important and influential political figures like Rahm Emanuel and Michael Madigan, and insiders like Jo Anderson to tighten restrictions on the Chicago Teachers Union." You're not going to hear it from the lips of any Chicago GOP activist, but Rahm's actions in the teachers strike crisis have been fueled by at least one of same donors fueling the presidential campaign of the man they're currently recruiting phone-bankers and making viral videos for.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Republican Party is facing its own fundraising issues. As Carol Felsenthal of Chicago Magazine pointed out, the Illinois GOP delegation had a relatively muted presence at last week's Republican National Convention, despite the number of state figures who went to Tampa to explore a 2014 gubernatorial run. In fact, the only time the state and city were in the national spotlight during the RNC was when New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (himself a favorite of CEOs and hedge fund managers) described President Obama as "nothing more than a Chicago ward politician." The common view of Chicago being in the perpetual grip of the Democratic Machine certainly affects the amount of outside attention (and interest) the city's Republican Party gets. As they acknowledged on their blog, the Chicago GOP's public stance against Alderman Moreno's Chik-Fil-A ban earned them the most media coverage they've ever had.

Currently, the local GOP branch is trying to raise $20,000 -- or one fifth of what Romney and Koch Brother-backer Griffin gave the city's Democratic mayor. Despite their second wave of national publicity in the span of five weeks, the group had only raised $5,670 as of last night.

Of course, there's a difference between trying to fundraise for a hypothetical City Council or state congressional candidate and trying to fundraise for a nationally-recognizable mayoral candidate famous for his own fundraising efforts. But if the Chicago Republican Party is going to criticize the mayor's decision to appear in Charlotte and speak out against political fundraising record-setter Mitt Romney, they should also be asking why the same mayor is getting more money and support from Romney's own donor base than they are.

After all, if the major funders of American conservative politics and the Romney campaign believe giving money to Obama's former chief-of-staff is a better way to push fiscally conservative, anti-union policies than giving money to the GOP branch in the city he runs, perhaps it's time for Chicago Republicans to adopt a new presidential candidate to support.

I'm sure the Libertarian Party's Gary Johnson could use some more volunteers.

CORRECTION: The original wording of article implied that Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan contributed to the Restore Our Future and American Crossroads PACs. According to opensecrets.org, this is not the case. However, opensecrets.org does list Bank of America as Romney's 4th largest donor, having contributed $510,728. To clarify how this number was compiled, the website notes, "The organizations themselves did not donate, rather the money came from the organizations' PACs, their individual members or employees or owners, and those individuals' immediate families. Organization totals include subsidiaries and affiliates." Furthermore, Bank of America's own PAC has contributed slightly more money to Republican than Democratic candidates in the 2012 election cycle. Similarly, there is another PAC called Bank of America Customers Super PAC. While a connection between Moynihan and support for the political platforms championed by Mitt Romney and Karl Rove can be inferred, it would be inaccurate to leave the original sentence as written.

 

Brandt Hardin / September 4, 2012 3:04 PM

Mitt Romney’s Magic Mormon Underwear protects him from the evils of the world including socialism, illegal immigrants, homosexuals and taxes on his wealth. Can these sacred garments also make it rain down enough cash for a victory in this race since well over 90% of public offices are bought in our country by Big Money? Drop by to discuss these mysterious tighty whities and the role of money in politics at http://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2012/05/mitt-romneys-magic-mormon-underwear.html

Adam Robinson / September 5, 2012 7:04 AM

Jason,

It takes two functioning parties to engage in democracy; when one party is absent from the discourse, the other party tends to make decisions that are not in the best interests of the electorate as a whole. Examples include the 10 year one-party domination of Springfield by the Madigan Democrats, or the one-party control of DC that the Republicans had during the early part of Bush's second term.

The Chicago Republican Party has been largely absent from the debate in Chicago for years, and I would argue that's bad for our city. When there's no political pressure from the opposition/minority party, mayors do things like lease our parking meters for 99 years without properly vetting the deal.

The Chicago GOP is focused on the three biggest issues facing Chicago - public safety, education, and the local economy. When our elected officials say or do things that we feel runs counter to effectively addressing these issues, we're going to speak out. Since being elected Chairman on April 18th of this year, my team and I have made it a priority to engage in the public square in a respectful, consistent, and principled manner. This episode is one such example.

Honestly, we couldn't care less about which people give what money to whom. As the minority party, we are concerned with holding public officials accountable for doing what we feel is the right thing. Fundraising is an important part of politics, unfortunately, but we're proud of what we've accomplished these past months.

Just think, had we not been vigilant this past weekend, our Mayor would have spent his week partying in Charlotte with celebrities instead of investing his time coming up with a solution to this epidemic of violence, or preempting what will be a disastrous teacher's strike.

Respectfully,

Adam Robinson
Chairman
Chicago Republican Party

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