Mayor Rahm Emanuel accepted free transportation, sports tickets and a stay as a house guest from friends and political supporters last year, but the number of gift givers was fewer than in years past.
The mayor is required to disclose gifts valued at more than $500 in his annual economic interest statement, and his new filing covering 2013 lists gifts from five individuals. That’s down from 12 in 2012 and 19 in 2011.
The most recent statement, which met the May 1 reporting deadline, includes gifts from those who’ve shown up on the form in the past.
For the third straight year, Emanuel reported receiving sports tickets and transportation from close adviser Michael Sacks, CEO of the Chicago hedge fund firm Grosvenor Capital Management and vice chairman of World Business Chicago, the city’s economic development arm. Sacks and his wife Cari Sacks have given more than $211,000 to Emanuel’s two campaign funds while Grosvenor and its employees have given another $406,000, state records show.
Also for a third year in a row, Emanuel reported staying as a houseguest of Chicago law firm partner Sidney “Skip” Herman, who also covered travel expenses for the mayor, according to the filing. Herman has contributed $60,000 to the mayor’s political funds, records show.
The mayor also reported having some travel costs covered for the third straight year by Bob Clark, chairman and CEO of the construction firm Clayco. Clark and his company, which relocated to Chicago from St. Louis after Emanuel was elected, have contributed $60,000 to the mayor’s campaign.
Appearing on the mayor’s list of gift-givers for the first time were Chicago personal injury attorney Bob Clifford and billionaire venture capitalist JB Pritzker. Emanuel reported accepting transportation gifts from both.
Clifford, his wife Joan Clifford, and his law firm have given $100,000 to Emanuel’s campaign funds, records show. Pritzker has contributed $67,000, according to state campaign finance reports.
While Emanuel’s filing listed receiving transportation gifts from the five supporters, the state’s disclosure laws to do not require public officials to report specific amounts or details. On Monday, an Emanuel spokeswoman declined to provide specifics about the transportation gifts, including the purpose of the travel and whether the rides were on private jets, commercial airliners or some other form of transit.
The mayor’s gift list didn’t have the touch of Hollywood that it has had in years past when he reported receiving concert tickets from Paul McCartney and twice staying at the home of music executive and film producer David Geffen. Emanuel also reported receiving more than $500 in meals from Bruce Rauner in 2011, but did not report any gifts from the GOP candidate for governor in 2013.
The Tribune reported last month that Emanuel has traveled frequently during his first two-and-a-half years in office, taking at least 56 trips, with taxpayer money spent on 41 of them.
On at least nine of the trips, records showed that taxpayers covered all or part of the travel as Emanuel met with political donors or raised campaign money from wealthy business executives who have helped the mayor amass a re-election fund that tops $7 million. Another six taxpayer-funded trips listed little or no city business, including several trips to Washington where Emanuel rubbed elbows at exclusive, private dinners.
Since taking office, records show Emanuel has flown a handful of times from Chicago to Teterboro Airport in New Jersey, an airport just outside of New York City that serves primarily private jets.
One of those trips took place last fall. Emanuel’s official calendar shows he flew to New York for a “noncity” event on the night of Sept. 17 at the Core Club, a private members-only club on East 55th Street that the New York Times has dubbed a “portal of power” and a place where “a geographically and socially diverse set of wealthy people gather to meet others of the same disparate tribe.”
In the two weeks following the trip, Emanuel’s campaign reported receiving more than $130,000 from donors living in New York, including $5,300 each from actor Robert DeNiro and film executive Harvey Weinstein, records show.
More than half of Emanuel’s 56 trips from May 2011 through December 2013 were not publicly disclosed, including many funded by taxpayer money. The mayor’s office has yet to respond to a records request for Emanuel’s calendars and travel expenses for the first three months of 2014.
Emanuel is out of town on another trip his office did not announce on his public schedule. Emanuel spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton said the mayor left Chicago over the weekend and would return Tuesday night. She said it was a private, domestic trip.
The disclosure statements also require public officials to disclose any capital asset from which they earned at least $5,000 during the year. Emanuel reported receiving more than $5,000 from eight different investment funds, up from two funds last year.Copyright © 2015, RedEye