Oh-oh! Rahm’s private emails are spilling the beans
A rock has been turned over in Chicago, and all kinds of revelations are scattering out.
Bill Ruthhart and Hal Dardick report in the Chicago Tribune:
Mayor Rahm Emanuel's personal email accounts have served as a private avenue of influence where executives and investors sought favorable action from City Hall, raising questions about whether some of the messages crossed the line into lobbying and violated the city's ethics law, the Chicago Tribune has found.
Usually, such requests don't become public. But late last year, pressure from open records lawsuits resulted in Emanuel releasing a trove of emails in which he conducted public business on personal email. The messages offer a rare look at how the mayor operates out of the public spotlight and reveal who has his ear.
Here is where the story becomes either weird or magical, depending on your perspective:
Now, a Chicago Board of Ethics that had long been viewed as toothless is reviewing details on potential lobbying activity it didn't have the wherewithal to uncover itself because it lacked investigative power. The Emanuel-appointed panel, which is evaluating the emails, enforces the city's broad lobbying law that covers many types of contact with government officials. The ethics board determines whether individuals have violated the rules, and it handed out a record $90,000 fine last month in the first case to emerge since the emails became public.
An Emanuel-appointed board resurrecting from the dead its putative function and actually handing out penalties big enough to hurt, not to mention public shaming for unethical behavior! How's that for drama?
Guess who got caught and paid the fine! Not some paving contractor:
Hit with the penalty was former Uber executive David Plouffe for illegally lobbying Emanuel on the city's ride sharing ordinance. Plouffe, who managed former President Barack Obama's 2008 campaign, sent an email to one of the mayor's two personal accounts asking Emanuel to help the company on regulations for picking up travelers at Chicago's two airports. Plouffe and Uber argued the size of the fine was "absurd," but the ethics board stood by its ruling, noting the city's lobbying law called for a $1,000 fine for each business day Plouffe failed to register as a lobbyist, starting five days after he contacted Emanuel.
As Ruthhart and Dardick reveal, there is a lot of meat for CBOE to chew on, if it continues on its path of integrity.
Scattered throughout the mayor's emails are messages that could raise questions about whether ethics infractions occurred. They involve issues ranging from Airbnb pushing back against City Hall home rental regulations and American Airlines executives asking for Emanuel's support in Washington for a corporate merger to United Airlines negotiating on expansions at O'Hare International Airport and Chicago Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts seeking added Wrigleyville security.
Read the whole thing. Chicago is the ultimate expression of Democrat dominance of politics. This may be a story that keeps on giving.