Much attention has been paid to the nearly $1.5 million Emanuel’s campaign got from the entertainment industry, largely a result of the influence of his Hollywood-agent brother. But beyond the glamour of big donations from the likes of Steven Spielberg and David Geffen, much more money has been donated to Emanuel from people with a more direct interest in Chicago government.
More than $1 million in contributions came from companies with recent city business, according to a Tribune analysis of more than 3,200 donations through his campaign’s April 19 filing with the state.
Many of Emanuel’s biggest donors are the same people who filled Mayor Richard Daley’s campaign coffers over the last two decades. Daley swore off contributions from anyone with a City Hall contract following a bribery scandal, but that was only after he had banked a large campaign fund…
Donors from the financial services industry made up the largest block of income for the campaign, totaling at least $4.9 million since October, according to the newspaper’s analysis. There were more than a dozen contributors whose companies currently help manage investments in the city’s billion-dollar pension funds — a slice of city business that doesn’t fall under Daley’s version of the contribution ban.
Donors who identified themselves as lawyers donated $1.1 million, donors from the real estate industry gave nearly $732,000, and construction interests gave almost $303,000.
The money has continued to pour in even after Emanuel was elected Feb. 22. Since Election Day, the campaign has reported almost $479,000. Much of it came from lawyers and financial fund managers, including employees of Citadel Investment Group, the Chicago-based hedge fund, who contributed $35,000. Citadel’s CEO, Kenneth Griffin, was one of Daley’s largest donors.
Mellody Hobson, president of Ariel Investments, said she gave $31,500 to Emanuel because of their long-standing friendship and her belief that he will move the city forward. Ariel manages billions of dollars in Chicago’s public employee pension funds…
By far the largest Emanuel supporter among investment houses is Grosvenor Capital Management, whose employees and their spouses gave Emanuel more than $447,000. The firm for years has stayed away from city business because one of its vice presidents and pension fund managers is Sean Conroy, Daley’s son-in-law…
…Several donors with city business said their decisions to give to Emanuel had nothing to do with their pursuit of contracts. In commercial builder Steve Blinderman’s case, he said the tie that binds goes back to childhood.
“I grew up with Rahm,” said Blinderman, president of Blinderman Construction, which has built city projects for years and currently has more than $20 million in contracts at Chicago schools. He and his brother David each contributed $2,500 to Emanuel at a cocktail reception in January, he said.