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Garcia, Elected Officials Demand Emanuel Release Emails With Wealthy Donor

By aaroncynic in News on Apr 6, 2015 7:25PM

Photo credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Elected officials and community activists are calling for the release of more than 1,500 emails the Emanuel administration has blocked between him and one of his top donors, Michael Sacks. Sacks, who is the CEO of Grosvenor, a private investment management firm, had a major role in negotiating the last parking meter deal and ties to the City’s pension management funds, has along with his wife donated some $1.6 million to the mayor and his allies.

The Emanuel administration, which admits the emails exist, has been blocking a Freedom of Information Act request by the International Business Times since March 6. According to IBT, the Mayor’s office said it would “consider providing the records after a redaction process,” but more than likely not before tomorrow’s election.

“What is he trying to hide?" asked Froylan Jimenez, a Chicago teacher who delivered a letter demanding he release the emails to Emanuel’s office on Friday. “We have real concerns that he’s looking to sell out Chicagoans on more school closings— just like he and Mayor Emanuel did on their so-called ‘renegotiation’ of the hated parking meter deal.”

Jimenez was joined at a press conference across the street from City Hall today by Cook County Clerk David Orr, who has endorsed Emanuel’s challenger Chuy Garcia. “We have a fundamental responsibility to the taxpayers and the public to run honest, open, accountable offices,” said Orr. “Mayor Emanuel needs to meet those same minimum standards— as he promised he would.”

Garcia and his campaign took the opportunity to criticize Emanuel, who four years ago promised his administration would be the “most open, accountable and transparent government that the City of Chicago has ever seen.” In a statement emailed Sunday, campaign spokesperson Monica Trevino wrote:

“We cannot afford to wait until after the election to know the contents of those emails. We cannot afford to wait to see what new privatization scheme Sacks and Mayor Emanuel are developing. We cannot afford to wait to know which new campaign donor is going to be rewarded with a City contract, while our neighborhoods are neglected.”

When asked by reporters about the emails at a press conference in Pilsen on Monday, Garcia said that the blocked correspondence between the wealthy Sacks and Emanuel was another example of “pay-to-play politics.” “It’s not good when such influential and powerful people have that type of access and influence over key decision makers,” Garcia said. “It really shrinks the voice of ordinary people in Chicago. I think that voters are entitled to know what kind of conversations are going on.”

At least one email related to Rahm from Michael Sacks has been seen by the public. On Thursday, the same day IBT broke the story, Sun-Times' columnist Michael Sneed reported Sacks sent an email to friends urging them to get out the vote along the Gold Coast for Emanuel. Sacks, a Sun-Times board member of a paper that has endorsed Rahm Emanuel, said "Every vote counts and we all have to remind our friends to vote."