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Emanuel's billionaire donors also bankrolling 'Stand for Children', pushing union-busting organizations in Illinois

Ohanian Comment: As always, we need to watch the Chicago news carefully. And thanks to Substance for making this possible. For decades, Chicago has been the leader in moneyed school deformation. Now, Stand for Children wants Obama buddy Rahm Emanuel to become mayor of Chicago. Follow the above hot link for Stand for Children. And follow the links there. You'll get an eyeful, and you'll begin to understand why we all need to follow the money in Chicago. The survival of your neighborhood schools depends on your vigilance--and your activism. And following the ed deformers in Chicago shows you why we are all at risk.

Just look at the the money-school "reform"-Obama connection: Penny Pritzker, part of one of America's wealthiest families, sits on the board of the Hyatt Corporation, a company founded by her family. She is a member of President Obama's Economic Recovery Advisory Board and was also National Finance Chair of his presidential campaign and co-chair of the 2009 Presidential Inaugural Committee. On November 20, 2008, CNN reported that Pritzker was Barack Obama's top choice for Commerce Secretary, quoting "multiple" unnamed sources. However, it was later reported that because of her involvement in the failure of subprime lender Superior Bank Pritzker took herself out of the running.

It is no coincidence that Ms. Pritzker is Chair of the Chicago Public Education Fund, a vulture philanthropy. Edward B. Rust, Jr, Chairman and CEO, State Farm Insurance Companies, and a Business Roundtable leader in education deform since the 1980ies, sits on their board. For revelations about Rust, go here. And read Why Is Corporate America Bashing Our Public Schools.

Watch for more revelations at Substance. Send them a donation.

by Jim Vail

Rahm Emanuel's major donors include some of the same people who recently tried to get the Illinois General Assembly to approve a legislation called "Performance Counts." The same big money people who are bankrolling the group called "Stand for Children" are also putting most of their campaign cash into the coffers of Rahm Emanuel's candidacy for Chicago mayor.

Hyatt Hotel billionaire owner Penny Pritzker not only served as Barack Obama's 2008 campaign finance chief (helping Obama raise the largest amount of campaign cash in history), but got Obama to drop his support for the "card check" approach to union organizing, when her Hyatt Hotel interests were threatened, despite Obama's promises to the AFL-CIO. [In Substance photo you can see Pritzker sitting with Paul Volker (center) and Rahm Emanuel (left) during an Obama speech on Wall Street.] Penny Pritzker now supports Emanuel's candidacy for mayor of Chicago and has helped Stand for Children raise more than $3 million (including $50,000 she donated herself) for its PAC fund to undermine Illinois teacher unions. As a recent report from one of the most factual news services in Springfield points out, Stand for Children, which didn't exist in Illinois five months ago, is now the best funded political action committee (PAC) in the state, having gone from zero to more than $3 million in its coffers thanks to a handful of Chicago area millionaires and billionaires who donated as much as a half million dollars to Stand for Children just before Illinois law changed putting a cap on the donations. The same billionaires and millionaires are bankrolling the Rahm Emabuel campaign for mayor or Chicago. One of those who made a major contribution to Stand for Children (Tribune corporation's Sam Zell, who donated $100,000 to Stand for Children) also puts out the supposed surveys that show Emanuel as the leading candidate for mayor (via the Tribune - WGN polls).

Capital Fax, a newsletter covering Illinois government, shared the following on January 21, 2010. The information is based on public records:

CAPITOL FAX, "Political Intelligence", by Rich Miller


It's no longer a surprise why Rahm Emanuel so heartily endorsed an education reform bill that was vigorously opposed by the teachers unions. The Chicago mayoral candidate raised almost $900,000 from all but two of the same individuals, families and companies which filled Stand for Children Illinois' coffers to bursting last month.

Although Sam Zell had to step down more than a year ago from his position as CEO of Tribune Corporation, he continues with the company he bought on credit ("leverage" as they call it on Wall Street) and then bankrupted. Zell donated $100,000 to Stand for Children during the final days of 2010, just before finance laws in Illinois got tighter. Emanuel reported raising $10.6 million from contributors during the campaign finance period which ended on December 31st, far outpacing his rivals. Twenty-two of his contributions were at least $100K and 53 of his contributions were between $50k and $75K.

Carol Moseley Braun did not file her disclosure statement by the midnight deadline, but her campaign claims she raised about $600,000, with another $250K since the beginning of the
year (for which she has also not filed any disclosure reports).

Gery Chico reported raising about $2.5 million, including in-kind contributions.

Miguel del Valle also did not file by the deadline, but said he'd raised about $110K.

Of his total, Emanuel pulled in about $4.6 million from Chicago residents. So about a fifth of his local money came from Stand for Children backers. The group has been pushing for several reforms that the teachers find abhorrent, including an all but total ban on strikes by Chicago teachers.

Many of these wealthy people were not terribly politically active before last year. Elizabeth Crown, a member of the Henry Crown dynasty (which gave Stand for Children $500K and Emanuel $114K) had only contributed relatively small amounts before ramping up her giving with $50K to "Stand" and $15K to Emanuel.

Paul Finnegan, the co-CEO of Madison Dearborn Partners, made just one large foray into politics before last year, contributing $51K to Corinne Wood's campaigns over 5 years. Late last year, he contributed $500K to Stand for Children and $50K to Emanuel.

Chicago Hedge Fund billionaire Ken Griffin has contributed to the Rahm Emanuel campaign and wrote a check for a half million dollars to Stand for Children's PAC just before the December 31, 2010 deadline.Ken and Anne Griffin, who were major contributors to state House Republican candidates and Bill Brady's campaign last year, donated $200,000 to Emanuel and half a million dollars to Stand for Children. Griffin's only other major foray into political giving had been a large contribution to Mayor Daley's campaign four years ago.

Matthew Hulsizer, the CEO of PEAK6 Investments, contributed $80,000 to the House Republican Organization last year, $474,000 to Stand for Children and $100K to Emanuel.

A Board of Elections search turned up just one Hulsizer contribution before this past

election cycle, a $5K check to Rod Blagojevich in the 2002 primary.

A few are more well-known politically, including members of the famed Pritzker family, which kicked in $200K to Stand and about the same to Emanuel. Leo Smith, the husband of state Sen. Heather Steans and an education reform activist, contributed $25K each to Stand and Emanuel.

The Steans family is at the heart of another education reform group called Advance Illinois, which insiders say was initially behind the idea to limit the right to teacher strikes. Unlike Stand for Children, the group has no political action committee, but it does have a Statehouse lobbying presence and Sen. Steans' sister Robyn is listed as one of its representatives. Smith is a former Statehouse lobbyist, quitting the biz in 2004.

Former Gov. Jim Edgar and current White House chief of staff Bill Daley are listed as co-chairmen of Advance Illinois. Even Miguel del Valle, a liberal darling who came out against the Statehouse education reform package, sits on its board of directors.

So, what the heck is going on here? People connected to Stand for Children have said privately they believe that a group of Chicago's super-wealthy elite has decided that something absolutely must be done about the city's school system, and they've enthusiastically embraced the group along with Advance Illinois. The teachers unions say they're worried that the money being dumped into these groups is a harbinger of an eventual education privatization plan. A few believe that some of these contributors are hoping to profit off any new privatized education system.

Whatever is happening, it's playing out very fast and without much attention by anyone in the media.

HOARDING CASH Perhaps the most important things to watch in yesterday's campaign finance statement filings is how much political action committees and candidates had on hand at the end of December. The reason is simple: As of January 1st, state law caps contributions to these PACs and candidates, so some took advantage of the deadline by doing whatever they could to fill

their bank accounts before the deadline.

As I told you Wednesday, Stand for Children amassed a truly eye-popping $2.9 million bank statement by December 31st.

But other groups worked the circuit as well. The pro-choice Personal PAC relies heavily on large

contributions from wealthy contributors, and it raised $690K between election day and the end of the year (most of that coming in the last two days of December), leaving it with a sizable warchest of almost $1.4 million.

By contrast, the Illinois Federation for Right to Life had just $4,173 in the bank and the conservative United Republican Fund's bank account contained only $14K on January 1st. The Illinois Hospital Association raised close to a million dollars between election day and the end of the year, Three quarters of that was from Illinois Risk Management Services, the IHA's insurance arm. Those contributions would not have been possible under the new state law. The group had almost $1.4 million on hand at the end of 2010.

The Illinois State Medical Society did what appears to be the best of the older, established political action committees, ending last year with more than $1.8 million in the bank. The group's insurance company kicked in $770K in December.

Some business groups didn't fare well. The Illinois Chamber had just $17K on hand and the Illinois Manufacturers Association ended the year with just $1,000.

Among the four legislative leaders, House Speaker Michael Madigan's two committees ended 2010 with the most money on hand: $976K. House GOP Leader Tom Cross had less than a third of that: $320K. Senate President John Cullerton's two committees totaled $607K, while Senate Republican Leader Christine Radogno's committees added up to a $286K end of year balance.

— Jim Vail
Substance News & Capital F





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