Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » *** UPDATED x1 *** Chico makes millions lobbying city hall - No danger for Burnett? - Berrios rapped again
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*** UPDATED x1 *** Chico makes millions lobbying city hall - No danger for Burnett? - Berrios rapped again

Wednesday, Dec 22, 2010

* We have a new tagline for mayoral candidate Gery Chicago: Millionaire city hall lobbyist

A City Hall insider for decades, Chicago mayoral candidate Gery Chico has made millions of dollars in the last few years from his law firm that lobbies for clients seeking city business, according to three years of tax returns he released Tuesday.

Chico’s 2009 federal income tax return shows he and his wife, a school consultant, made $2.6 million. The couple paid about $830,000 in federal taxes on their income. They paid more than $900,000 in federal taxes the year before, when they declared $2.9 million in earnings, according to the records. […]

Chico’s law firm, Chico & Nunes, is a registered City Hall lobbyist for more than 40 companies — including large corporations such as Cisco Systems, Exelon Generation and Clear Channel — according to city records.

Chico said that if he is elected mayor, he would sever ties with the law firm but would not ask the firm to give up its business lobbying at City Hall.

I know lots of lobbyists. Almost all are more honest and scrupulous than many people I know outside of politics. The problem is, the common folk don’t think so. To them, lobbyists carry bags of cash around to hand out to crooked politicians. If Chico does start to surge, Rahm Emanuel can use that tagline against him. And it’ll probably be effective. That last statement about refusing to ask his firm to stop lobbying the city just makes it worse.

*** UPDATE *** From the Chico campaign…

- Gery isn’t a lobbyist and hasn’t had that registration since he was appointed to the Park District in 2007.

- Gery’s law firm isn’t primarily a lobbying firm - most revenues come from litigation, federal regulatory law, real estate transactions, construction safety and employment.

- if Gery is elected, he would sever all ties with the firm. As mayor, he would go further and restrict his old firm from being eligible from bidding on any city contracts. (just fyi, as part of his ethics plan, Gery would also abolish no-bid contracts and put everything out to competitive bid, which could save the city millions…)

- A little context here in terms of transparency. The Trib asked for his tax returns about 3 weeks ago, and we provided this openly and transparently as soon as Gery’s accountant prepared it for us. I believe Gery is the only serious competitor who has been working in the private sector, and we released three years of his tax returns…. and others like Rahm Emanuel, Carol Mosely Braun & James Meeks have yet to release their tax returns.

* This could be a case of the headline and the lede not matching the actual substance. “Burnett might lose spot on ballot“…

The chairman of the City Council’s Black Caucus is in danger of being knocked off the ballot because of outstanding fines stemming from code violations at a pair of Chicago properties he allegedly owns.

But scroll down…

Other sources said Kasper is arguing that at least one of the outstanding fines stem from an eight-year-old citation issued to the “correct address, but the wrong” real estate identification or PIN number.

“His name got dragged into it,” a source said of Burnett. “The citation was for work done without a permit. The property [Burnett] owns is vacant.”

Before filing for re-election, Burnett asked the city to run a “debt check” on him. It came back “clean,” said a source close to the alderman.

* We haven’t heard the last of this one, methinks

Weeks after Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios drew criticism for putting his son and sister on the payroll, a report was sent out by two county watchdogs reminding of ethics rules against hiring kin.

The two-page “advisory,” co-authored by county Inspector General Patrick Blanchard and ethics board chief MaryNic Foster, doesn’t go after Berrios specifically, but tongues are wagging about the timing of its release and the clear reminder of the ethics ordinance, which prohibits county elected officials and other employees from hiring or immediately supervising a relative. […]

Asked whether Berrios might rethink the hires considering he may have violated county ethics law, [spokeswoman Kelley Quinn] said: “Absolutely not. I think because we do have them here, this transition has gone smoothly.”

* Related…

* Springfield’s Education Reforms And The Chicago Mayoral Race

* Coming To Their Consensus - Blacks labored in vain to unite behind a single mayoral candidate. Meanwhile, all but one of the top white contenders have bowed out.

* Inspector General urges City Hall adopt no-gift policy: “This is an area that is fraught with the possibility of bribery at worst and the appearance of impropriety at best…A history of unchecked gift-giving…creates a perception of partiality,” Ferguson wrote.

* Preckwinkle names new aides on county contracts: The county’s new purchasing agent is Maria de Lourdes Coss, a Chicago city official who most recently worked as a purchasing director at the University of Illinois-Chicago. The new contract compliance director is E. LaVerne Hall, most recently at the Chicago Public Schools business diversity office.

* VIDEO: Susana Mendoza - Public Affairs

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Matt - Wednesday, Dec 22, 10 @ 5:13 am:

    No no, they got it all wrong about Berrios. It’s just that in a county of 5 million people, it just so happens that the most qualified people for the job are his children.

  2. - Logical Thinker - Wednesday, Dec 22, 10 @ 8:54 am:

    Berrios exemplifies everything that is wrong with politics in this state.

    Right after Todd gets indicted, they should go after Berrios.

  3. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Dec 22, 10 @ 9:21 am:

    Emanuel might hold his fire on the lobbying, or Chico is bound to retaliate with questions on Rahm’s incredibly lucrative stints as an investment banker (Com Ed, SBC deals) and on the Freddit Mac board.

  4. - amalia - Wednesday, Dec 22, 10 @ 9:36 am:

    can Milliionaire City Hall Lobbyist vs. Millionaire Investment Banker fit on a fight poster?

  5. - Frank - Wednesday, Dec 22, 10 @ 9:45 am:

    Does the Cook County ordinance which bans hiring relatives cover at-will employees?

  6. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Wednesday, Dec 22, 10 @ 9:55 am:

    Watch DelValle. He provides the best match-up against Emanuel.

  7. - SR - Wednesday, Dec 22, 10 @ 9:57 am:

    According to various media reports (New York Times, in particular) Emanuel’s commissions earned for bringing business to Wasserstein Perella constitute the bulk of monies he made in his three or four years in the private sector.

    Freddie Mac issue might have some legs, for the way the appointments were made, salaries paid to board members, and the accounting scandals.

  8. - Responsa - Wednesday, Dec 22, 10 @ 10:06 am:

    Both Chico’s and Emmanuel’s “backgrounds” perfectly illustrate the dilemma voters face in this and many elections: In order to be effective and get things done after being elected the candidate must have shown prior leadership success, have a good understanding of how multiple government bodies work, and must also have contacts, sources, and influence that can help actually get things done. But voters reject overt cronyism or TOO much “greasing of the skids”. Chicago voters have to figure out how they feel about where the current mayoral candidates fit in this framework.

    At the same time most voters know that amateurs (no matter how sincere), second tier intellects, and those politicos who have never successfully managed or “run” anything before, are just not up to the executive challenges of governing the regionally important city of Chicago.

  9. - Carl Nyberg - Wednesday, Dec 22, 10 @ 10:22 am:

    Here’s where Chico really loses me (and I was leaning toward Chico before reading this).

    Chico has the temerity to go in front of audiences (including one I blogged about) and boast that he hasn’t made any government money for 15 years when he was sitting on the board of ed, park district board and board for the city colleges.

    If you’re a lawyer making lots of money consulting and lobbying, don’t brag about how you are making no money. It’s simply not an honest claim by Chico.

    When I asked Chico’s PR person about the law firm I got various answers about it being a general practice law firm with diverse revenue streams and she also claimed they do a bunch of work helping women and minority businesses get access to government work by making sure their paperwork is in order.

    It didn’t sound true that Chico was sitting on these boards and getting nothing. And his PR person undermined her credibility by trying to BS me when I asked about it.

  10. - Carl Nyberg - Wednesday, Dec 22, 10 @ 10:31 am:

    Yellow Dog Democrat, Miguel del Valle is demonstrating a new Zen discipline: the art of campaigning without campaigning (meaning “fundraising”).

    There are people who will place third or lower in aldermanic races that have raised more money than del Valle. (There are 50 wards in the city.)

  11. - amalia - Wednesday, Dec 22, 10 @ 10:44 am:

    Del Valle provides the best match up to Emanuel? he’s got HDO connected in his operation so I’d expect that he’s another soft opponent for Rahm.

  12. - Shore - Wednesday, Dec 22, 10 @ 10:46 am:

    I was never impressed at all with preckwinkle but she permanently soiled herself by throwing in with that guy.

    As for chico, it was a cute stunt trying to dump this near christmas but if you are going to do it,
    a)do it christmas eve in the dead of night, b)there’s no excuse for what your wife does. why do we need to hire a contractor to hire tutors?

  13. - Upstate - Wednesday, Dec 22, 10 @ 11:00 am:

    You can see why Daley was so enraged at Chico’s criticisms. He’s made the guy rich!

  14. - Sinister - Wednesday, Dec 22, 10 @ 11:01 am:

    Del Valle is a nice guy, but not enough to pull within run off capabilities. His stronghold is in Humboldt Park, outside of that, he is unknown. It will be Chico vs Rahm.

  15. - Crimson - Wednesday, Dec 22, 10 @ 11:44 am:

    “Chico will beat Emanuel in a run-off, given his appeal to minorities and deeper knowledge of city government.” - NBC Ward Room

  16. - Anon - Wednesday, Dec 22, 10 @ 12:20 pm:

    Any word on Berrios’ replacement at the Board of Review?

  17. - amalia - Wednesday, Dec 22, 10 @ 12:21 pm:

    Upstate, you sound just like Anonymous posting on NBC Ward Room.

    Crimson, where do you find that quote? It would seem Ward Room has a different opinion on the race, with new poll results.

  18. - Lakefront Liberal - Wednesday, Dec 22, 10 @ 12:22 pm:

    I’m with YDD — del Valle is the best match-up against Rahm. All of the other candidates have serious skeletons in their closets that can easily be used against them if they start to surge. Chico’s city hall lobbying is just the tip of the iceberg with him — how about the $50K fundraiser he threw for Blago the night before he was arrested? Put “Blago fundraiser” up next to “millionaire lobbyist”, throw in the collapse of Altheimer & Gray and he is toast.

    Del Valle’s reputation from his 20 years as a state senator is solid as a rock, and he has managerial experience from his four years as Chicago City Clerk. Sure, it would be great to have someone with more of a base but there is no chance at all with the other candidates — they are doomed by their resumes.

  19. - amalia - Wednesday, Dec 22, 10 @ 12:23 pm:

    @Rich Miller: is the tagline “Millionaire Lobbyist” your own for Chico?

    do you have a tagline for other Chicago Mayoral candidates?

  20. - KDS - Wednesday, Dec 22, 10 @ 1:41 pm:

    So the guy earned a lot of money as an attorney in the private sector? At the end of the day, he is qualified and has worked for 4 major international law firms. 
    Someone should ask Emanuel how he earned $18 million as an investment banker in 2 and a half years with a background in arts and communication…. 

  21. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Dec 22, 10 @ 1:45 pm:

    ===with a background in arts and communication===

    His “background” was in fundraising, which means dealing with lots of rich people.

  22. - Shore - Wednesday, Dec 22, 10 @ 2:05 pm:

    he was referring to rahms ballet career and medill degree. why hasn’t some brilliant oppo researcher tracked down a vhs of one of his performances? THAT would be the youtube of the year. who wants to start calling sarah lawrence college archivists?

  23. - SR - Wednesday, Dec 22, 10 @ 2:32 pm:

    Trying to appeal to the ‘dance is for sissies’ crowd, eh?

  24. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Dec 22, 10 @ 2:34 pm:

    Apparently, SR, that was some childish dog-whistling that I didn’t pick up on.

  25. - Sue - Wednesday, Dec 22, 10 @ 2:44 pm:

    For those of you with short memories- while Chico ran the Chicago Board of Education, his lawfirm at the time reaped huge fees from clients with matters before the Board- of course chico claimed he took no position when those clients came before the Board- Chico doesn’t seem to know what a conflict of interest is and for that reason lets hope Rahm gets on the ballot

  26. - SR - Wednesday, Dec 22, 10 @ 2:50 pm:

    That’s ok Mr. Miller, just means you don’t listen to Limbaugh and his acolytes. Good for you.

    Your response was right on. Emanuel was a major fundraiser for Daley, and the finance chair for the Clinton campaign. He knows rich people and how to get money out of them. Not a bad skill set for a banker.

  27. - Monstrum - Wednesday, Dec 22, 10 @ 4:07 pm:

    “knows rich people and how to get money out of the.” Talk about a handy skill set for a politician! Or anyone - would really help my nonprofit. Too bad I didn’t learn that in my liberals arts education…

  28. - KDS - Wednesday, Dec 22, 10 @ 5:09 pm:

    Good point Rich, must be nice to have connections with rich people!

    Did some more digging, the Sun-Times ran a story on December 6, 2010..,CST-NWS-watchdogs1206.article

    “Last year, Chico & Nunes worked for 89 clients that did business with the city or that hired the firm’s lawyers to lobby city government, according to documents filed with the Chicago Board of Ethics. Eighteen of those clients hired the firm to do both legal and lobbying work.

    In all, the 89 clients paid the firm at least $445,000 in 2009, records show.”

    So if in one year, all the clients that the firm represented as lobbyists paid to C&N, in total, less than a half-million dollars, doesn’t that mean that only a very very small portion of Chico’s income could have come from those lobbyists? Maybe I’m missing something, but this doesn’t sound like all that big of a deal… 

  29. - SR - Wednesday, Dec 22, 10 @ 9:25 pm:

    I remember reading an article about Rahm that talked about his early years fresh out of college and volunteering for Illinois Public Action. He didn’t know anyone with money, had no connections, so he would go to buildings looking for dedication plaques for the donors that helped build them or fund their projects and take down names. Very resourceful, that one.

    I think Mr. Nyberg has it right on Gery Chico. He tries so hard to distance himself that when his financial connections to City Hall over the years are highlighted in tax returns or whatever it make it seem worse than it might really be?

    I could have sworn I had seen Rahm Emanuel’s and Miguel DelValle’s tax returns for the previous year in the papers already.

    Mr. Miller sure is taking his sweet time making his decision known…. Do you think he wants to do it the same day as the Election Panel convenes to render their decision so we only have one more day of the citizen objectioneers commanding the stage?

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