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Rahm Emanuel Facing Questions Over Campaign Donations From Pension Fund Managers

Then-Governor Rod Blagojevich with then-Congressman Rahm Emanuel, 2003

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is once again facing questions over possibly unethical behavior. This time the controversy is due to executives that manage Chicago’s pension funds giving Mayor Emanuel campaign contributions.

This is arguably not allowed under federal pay to play laws as Emanuel has influence as to who gets to mange the funds. Getting money from people you are giving business to certainly looks like quid pro quo corruption.

The story from David Siorata at the International Business Times also points out that the campaign contributions from the pension fund managers may also contradict an executive order Emanuel himself signed in 2011 which supposedly prohibits those who do business with the city from giving money to those that run the city. Good rule.

Did Rahmbo break the law?

A former chief of staff to President Obama, Emanuel, a Democrat, was elected Chicago mayor three years ago with a substantial boost from financial services executives. Since 2011, at least 31 executives at firms that harvest fees by managing city pension funds have contributed to his campaign and associated PACs. That list of donors includes Kelly Welsh, a Northern Trust executive who was recently appointed by President Obama to the top legal position in the U.S. Commerce Department.

Former prosecutors, corporate compliance attorneys and erstwhile officials at the Securities and Exchange Commission describe the donations as a clear breach of the spirit — and perhaps the letter — of the SEC’s so-called pay-to-play rule, which seeks to prevent pension investments from being doled out as a form of patronage to those who contribute to campaigns.

It is hard to say what the consequence is if Emanuel violated his own executive order, but violating a federal law should have some consequences, no? Emanuel refused to provide a justification for his behavior to IBT.

Mayor Emanuel’s administration has already been problematic. Not only has Chicago’s crime problem made national headlines with rampant shootings earning the city the nickname “Chiraq”, but Emanuel’s own dealings have come under fire after it was revealed that he had received money from Comcast before publicly backing Comcast’s merger with Time Warner. Add a pay to play scandal to the resume and Chicago voters might feel very dumb for electing him.

Photo from US House of Representatives under public domain.

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Dan Wright

Dan Wright

Daniel Wright is a longtime blogger and currently writes for Shadowproof. He lives in New Jersey, by choice.