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Emanuel, Garcia Rake In Big Bucks For Mayoral Campaigns

By Chuck Sudo in News on Jan 8, 2015 5:00PM

No, not these friends. (Photo credit: City of Chicago/Brooke Collins)

It's already been established that Rahm Emanuel holds an overwhelming fundraising advantage over his mayoral race opponents and, thanks to political gadfly William Kelly removing campaign contribution limits in the mayoral race with a $100,000 donation to his own campaign, can line his coffers with money like stuffing down into a comforter.

And he's doing it by the Brink truckload. The Tribune reports Emanuel campaign fund took in $760,800 in the final weeks of 2014 and the total amount in his war chest currently stands at $11 million. See, the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling benefits for both major parties. Since Emanuel can raise buckets of cash with a simple phone call to his Hollywood agent brother Ari, the focus of the Trib's piece is on the friends in high places who contributed to his campaign. Filmmaker Steven Spielberg donated $25,000 to Emanuel, music mogul David Geffen contributed $50,000 and Dreamworks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg pitched in $10,000.

But those weren't even the largest donations. Cheryl Saban, wife of "Mighty Morphing Power Rangers" producer Haim Saban, contributed $100,000 to Emanuel's campaign. Chicagoist searched Emanuel's campaign contributions from October 1 through December 31 to see where these donations were coming from and from whom. Let's just say if Emanuel is hoping to downplay his "Mayor 1 Percent" nickname, he needs to do a better job.

- Emanuel received a $100,000 contribution from John Arnold, founder of the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, a Houston-based philanthropic foundation that has contributed money to, among others, an initiative called StudentsFirst headed by controversial former Washington, DC schools chief Michelle Rhee.

- Howard Gottlieb, a retied business executive from Evanston, contributed $100,000.

- Private investor Timothy Mullen contributed $100,000. Mullen made headlines last year when he put his Lincoln Park mansion on the market with an asking price of $18.75 million, the highest-priced real estate listing in Chicago.

- Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt donated $50,000 to Emanuel.

- Philanthropist and former investor and money manager Gary P. Brinson contributed $50,000.

- Marjorie Benton of Evanston, who lists her occupation as "homemaker," gave Emanuel $10,000.

Is Emanuel going to spend every bit of his $11 million fund to get re-elected? Of course not. But it did make some candidates think twice about running against him and Emanuel can use (and is using) that money to evade actually defending his record and debating his primary challengers, Ald. Bob Fioretti and Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia.

While Emanuel has the purse strings and support of the white collar elite, Garcia's campaign has received a boost thanks to his endorsement from the Chicago Teachers Union. Garcia raised $843,953.56 for his "Garcia for Chicago" fund during that same time frame. That total includes $350,000 from the Service Employees International Union Healthcare Indiana Illinois PAC, $304,600 from the American Federation of Teachers, $16,000 from Karen Lewis' campaign fund and $10,000 from Cook County Clerk David Orr's campaign fund. (Thanks, William Kelly, for removing those campaign contribution caps!)

Fioretti's campaign raised $146,321.69 in the final three months of 2014, according to State Election Board records.