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Big Business Fights Back

By Kevin Robinson in News on Apr 6, 2007 2:00PM

2007_4_hand_gripping_money.jpgYesterday we talked about the fighting that has been going on between the labor movement in Chicago and the aldermen that are facing runoffs this year. On the heels of the very public sniping that is taking place between unions and aldermen whose power is being challenged comes some not-so-surprising disclosures of the First C.D. Victory PAC, a political action committee founded to finance pro-business candidates (and, generally, allies of Daley). The Chicago Tribune is reporting that Arkansas-based Wal-Mart has given $100,000 to the PAC, which has been using its funds to help embattled South Side aldermen.

While unions like SEIU and the UFCW have engaged their membership to go into their communities, running for alderman, knocking on doors and talking to neighbors, big business has funneled cash — and lots of it — into a PAC that then distributes that money to candidates that "support economic development," said Wal-Mart spokeswoman Mia Masten. In fact, Wal-Mart is the biggest donor of the group, outspending even ComEd and law firms that have business before the city.

After all the talk last winter about how the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce was going to build its own "Chicago-style" machine to take on challengers to aldermen that it backed, it seems that business has fallen back on its old ways of simply giving money. And politicians have been quick not only to take the cash, but to push the party line, working to bring big box retailers into their neighborhoods, and even floating an amendment to the city's ethics ordinance that would limit the amount of money that workers and their unions can spend on elections. April 17 will decide, at least for now, what talks louder at City Hall: voices in the neighborhoods, or cold, hard cash.

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