Emanuel slammed for alleged lobbying violations
Politicians on both sides of the aisle reacted angrily to a recent newspaper report that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel appears to have violated a city ethics law by allegedly lobbying via his personal email accounts.
The Chicago Board of Ethics has begun an investigation into the accusations, which come from a Chicago Tribune article. The paper said it had identified 26 instances in nearly 3,000 pages of emails in which Emanuel was lobbied for access to or from his office or city officials without the sender registering as a lobbyist or reporting his contact with ethics officials, making such contact illegal.
"We're going to review all of the information," William Conlon, the chairman of the ethics board, told the Tribune. “If there is something presented to us or out in the public domain, and we become aware of it, you can be assured we'll take a look at it."
Some of the emails came from businessmen like Tom Ricketts, the chairman of the Chicago Cubs, and American Airlines executives.
For additional insight, the Chicago City Wire reached out to prominent Republican and Democratic officials in Chicago.
Benjamin Thomas Wolf, a Democrat running for U.S. representative for Illinois District 5 in 2018, said he is pushing for a thorough investigation.
“Any possible ethical irresponsibility must be examined to the fullest extent possible,” Wolf said. “As a former federal agent, I take ethical breaches as seriously as breaches of the law. I hope that the people of Chicago are able to pressure city hall and any enforcement bodies into a full inquiry and disclosure of all the mayor’s possible legal and ethical violations.”
He added that he believes Emanuel has overstepped before.
“The mayor has acted above the law in previous instances, and this can no longer be tolerated,” Wolf said. “The citizens and residents of Chicago deserve better elected officials at all levels.
Chris Cleveland, chairman of the Chicago Republican Party, alleged that misconduct runs in the city's political party.
“Chicago Democrats have been doing backroom deals for a century,” he said. “The only difference here is that someone forced the information into the open. Rahm Emanuel will continue to do favors for his friends. He'll just know enough not to put the evidence in an email.”
Cleveland also pointed to a recent media report that exposed Emanuel receiving large donations from restaurateurs that were granted special license to operate at the city’s Midway Airport.
“It's clear that Rahm is exchanging favors for donations,” he said. “That's illegal and warrants a very serious investigation.”
The Tribune said that based on a previous ethics violation case, fines for the 26 emails could total more than $14 million if all were to be determined to be illegal.
Emanuel has not commented on the allegations.