Smile Politely

Why did C-U oligarchs send big bucks to Rahm?

Tom Kacich uncovered some interesting campaign finance information and wrote about it in Sunday’s Gazette (it’s not on their website, alas). It seems that local industrialist Shahid Kahn, owner of Flex-N-Gate, gave Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago mayoral campaign $100,000 — way, way more than he’s ever given to any other candidate in the past. Kahn has no known business interests in Chicago.

In addition, sandwich shop czar Jimmy John and his wife gave $25,000, another $25,000 came from five other Jimmy John’s executives, local developer Peter Fox gave $5,000, local bar owner Carlos Nieto gave $5,000. In total, C-U sent Rahm $165,250. By comparison, people in other cities much less: $12,000 from Peoria, $6,000 from Decatur, nothing from Bloomington-Normal. Even folks in Washington DC only sent $89,250 to the Chicago race.

Only Fox is quoted and says his contribution is unrelated to the others (although it probably should be noted he owns several Jimmy John’s franchises and is on the company’s development team), and that he’s known Rahm for years, etc. etc. We’re not buying it. What gives? Do they want access to something in Chicago? What can the Chicago city government do for these contributors, or for C-U in general (with perhaps an eye toward enrichment by indirect means). Are we completely cynical? Well, yes. But something here does not pass the smell test.

The contributors clearly want something. What is it? A Jimmy Johns and UI research park development on North Michigan Ave? With franchised Champaign bars so students can feel right at drunken home: when they have to get out of their parents’ Schaumburg house, they can just go downtown instead of all the way to Champaign. Highly, highly plausible scenarios (well, maybe not). But the manufacturing of car bumpers element has us stumped. Certainly there will be no manufacturing expansion in Illinois (unless….unless….the dreaded public/private partnership rears its head), because everyone knows that after the tax hike businesses are fleeing Illinois for the higher tax states of Indiana and Wisconsin… So that can’t be it…..

Actually, we think the answer is pretty obvious, and it’s troubling, in the sense of buying access to swing a huge decision in a politcally sleazy manner. Not that his is new (see: process for locating U of I in C-U). We’ll tell you later (or maybe Kacich will figure it out and spill the beans). But in the meantime:

Tell us your thoughts in the comments about why our local oligarchs shoveled cash at the new mayor of Chicago, and former chief of staff to the President. We’re interested in what you think is behind this generosity. If you think it’s out of the goodness of their hearts, please leave your address so we can send you a prospectus for an amazing investment opportunity.

The best answer, correct or not, wins a Fabulous Prize (TBD). The correct answer (ed. note: in Stuart’s estimation) gets you a pound of pork chops.

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