Moral Bankruptcy Of Chicago's Elites


There is real pain in Chicago. In the last four years, 10,000 shootings have left the city scarred. Nearly 21,000 students are trapped in failing schools. Homeowners face rising property taxes – monthly property tax payments now rival mortgage payments. One million residents have fled the city since 1950 for prosperity elsewhere.

Rumors of financial insolvency are not exaggerated. There is a staggering $19,000 public pension liability per each city resident.

As a mayoral candidate in 2010-11, Rahm Emanuel gave regular people hope with his repeated assertion that he would “stop pay-to-play in City Hall” and “end the historical culture of corruption.” Emanuel was right. Public sector corruption was forestalling private sector production. Ending “pay to play” seemed like the only way back for the city.

In the months following his election, Emanuel seemed to execute on his promise by signing an executive order preventing city contractors from giving campaign cash to the mayor’s funds. It was a nice soundbite, but the measure was weakly designed. It lacked an enforcement mechanism and was riddled with loopholes.

Last week, our organization American Transparency – with the data at – fact checked Emanuel’s ethics policy for the John Stossel Special, Chicago Corruption: Is Pay-to-Play in Chicago Still Legal?

Here’s what we found: 600 city vendors gave Emanuel $7 million in campaign cash during the past four years and received $2 billion in city payments since 2002. And here’s how we found that data: We looked at a universe of 1,500 companies or their affiliated employees funding Rahm Emmanuel’s campaign since 2010. We then matched those company names with payments from the City of Chicago vendor checkbook. It’s a confluence of campaign cash and contractor payments or benefits.

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