This Man Was Obama’s Chief of Staff: Crony Capitalism, U.S. Style

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who used to be Presidential Chief of Staff Emanuel, has a slight ethics problem (boldface mine):

Months after Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said budget constraints forced him to push for pension cuts and mass school closures, an analysis of government documents reveals the city has $1.71 billion in special accounts often used to finance corporate subsidies. While the Emanuel administration has rejected open records requests for details of the subsidies, evidence suggests at least some of them have flowed to companies connected to Emanuel’s campaign donors

In 2013, as Emanuel was pushing to spend $125 million of taxpayer money on a stadium development deal for a private university, the mayor said the need for budget savings compelled him to order the largest public school closing in American history. The budget mandating those school closures included a $68 million cut to classroom programs….

While Chicago budget documents officially classify many of these projects as “public improvements,” many of these projects have benefited companies connected to Emanuel’s campaign contributors. For example:

– While saying there was no more money for schools or pension benefits, Emanuel pushed a $29 million TIF that critics say is designed to benefit an office tower that will be the new Chicago headquarters of a law firm whose employees gave Emanuel more than $125,000 in campaign contributions. That firm was involved in a $4.5 million TIF that Emanuel’s allies pushed for Vienna Beef.

The Emanuel administration approved a $7 million TIF aiding a grocery store chain, Mariano’s. A board member of that chain’s parent company donated $25,000 to Emanuel’s campaign.

– As part of an estimated $300 million in taxpayer-financed subsidies to help the tourism industry, Emanuel backed a $55 million TIF near the city’s convention center. The TIF benefits a hotel chain partly owned by one of his largest campaign contributors’ hedge funds.

– Emanuel appointees additionally awarded some of that latter TIF project money to Jones Lang LaSalle, which counts Ariel Investments as one of its largest shareholders. The president of Ariel Investments is Mellody Hobson, a major Emanuel donor.

This is sleazier than Obama’s ties to the Pritzkers. When you add in Emanuel’s belief that some children should be left behind, it’s a miracle Obama’s first term wasn’t a total catastrophe.

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