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*** UPDATED x1 *** Oppo dump!

Monday, Feb 4, 2019

* The Chicago Tribune on Chicago mayoral candidate Amara Enyia’s personal finances

Enyia did not report to the IRS $21,000 paid to her by Chris Kennedy’s governor campaign, where she worked as a consultant for several months. […]

Enyia acknowledged she has underpaid her taxes in the past. In March 2017, the IRS placed a $9,668 lien against her for unpaid taxes between 2011 and 2015, according to public records. The tax lien filed with the Cook County recorder of deeds lists unpaid tax balances associated with Enyia’s Form 1040 tax return filings for four years — $3,311 in 2011, $1,288 in 2012, $350 in 2013 and $4,718 in 2015. […]

Also in August 2017, one of Enyia’s student lenders filed a lawsuit against her in Cook County Circuit Court for $17,800 in what it said were unpaid loans from the 2005 school year, when she was an undergraduate at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. […]

The fines from her first mayoral campaign were not Enyia’s only financial difficulty from 2015. She also faced an eviction lawsuit from the landlord of her Garfield Park apartment in 2015, alleging she had failed to pay her rent. The landlord later dropped the legal action and now says filing the suit was “his error.” […]

Enyia also lists Blue1647 on her resume, stating she has been a “senior advisor” to the organization since 2013, and served as its president in 2017.

The Tribune asked Cambry if Enyia has had a role or title with his organization. “No,” he said.

*** UPDATE *** Response

At a time when the next mayor of Chicago will face a $1 billion spike in pension payments, those personal financial troubles might seem disqualifying.

But Enyia argued otherwise. She wears those struggles as a badge of honor — not because getting through it was easy, but because her “lived experience informs the values” of equity and justice she brings to a campaign that aims to change the direction of a City Hall she claims is “disconnected from the lived reality” of everyday Chicagoans.

“I’m standing here as a candidate for mayor — not because I’m well off or have lived a perfect life. I’m standing here as a real person who understands financial hardship because I have lived through it myself. I’ve gone to bed having to make decisions about paying a bill or getting a vehicle or paying a ticket or putting food on the table,” she said, surrounded by cheering and finger-snapping supporters.

“When I talk about policies that create generational wealth, it’s because I don’t want generations of Chicagoans to have to experience what I experienced trying to make their way in this city. When I talk about punitive fines and fees and banning the boot, it’s because I know how an unjust government punishes people because they are poor.”

- Posted by Rich Miller        

54 Comments »
  1. - wordslinger - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 12:19 pm:

    I’m guessing “conduit for an oppo dump” is more accurate description than “a Tribune investigation,” as stated in the lede.


  2. - Calumet Beer - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 12:19 pm:

    Is Ben Joravsky and the Chicago Reader still praising her campaign? With stuff like this, no wonder Dorothy Brown endorsed her.


  3. - lakeside - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 12:27 pm:

    Yeah, I didn’t love the way this was written up at all.


  4. - WSJ Paywall - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 12:30 pm:

    Don’t care about her personal finance issues. But the lying about her earnings and her resume are inexcusable.


  5. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 12:34 pm:

    Question: what has Amara Enyia actually DONE other than accumulate a bunch of degrees (and tax liens)?


  6. - Buzz - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 12:38 pm:

    Gotta agree that the biggest part of this “dump” is that she lied on resume?? What’s going on there, I’d like a full story on that.


  7. - Flynn's Mom - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 12:40 pm:

    @Calumet Beer….you beat me to the Dorothy Brown comment.


  8. - City Zen - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 12:45 pm:

    The student debt issue makes her more relatable.

    ==Enyia also lists Blue1647 on her resume, stating she has been a “senior advisor” to the organization since 2013, and served as its president in 2017.==

    Coincidence that I can’t find a 990 filed by Blue1647 since 2014 or expected result?


  9. - Perplexed - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 12:53 pm:

    Exactly why should a debt strapped city with trouble paying its own bills elect as its Mayor someone who has an even worst record at paying their own bills? Let’s take the advice of a far more talented rapper than Chance and Kanye..”on to the next one”


  10. - OneMan - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 12:55 pm:

    I get she didn’t want to practice law, but why not at least take the bar exam? Seems like a handy thing to have to try and make some money if needed.

    I also thought the failure to report income was a bit of an issue, I do my taxes myself using software but I still review it. Seems like missing 14K in income would be noticeable.


  11. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 12:58 pm:

    ==Is Ben Joravsky and the Chicago Reader still praising her campaign?==
    I’m a regular reader. When did they praise Enyia’s campaign? Joravsky mentioned Enyia was a long shot, but in a runoff she had a better chance. Is that praise? I get that Joravsky was interviewing a lot of the mayoral candidates even the long shots. What does this have to do with Dorothy Brown?


  12. - Ron Burgundy - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 1:24 pm:

    — What does this have to do with Dorothy Brown? —

    I think those were two separate thoughts. It has to do with Brown because she endorsed Enyia last week and of course appears to have some financial shenanigans issues of her own.


  13. - 47th Ward - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 1:38 pm:

    ===it’s because I know how an unjust government punishes people because they are poor.===

    Even poor people have to pay their taxes. That’s not punishment, that’s the cost of civilization, to quote a former governor.


  14. - Perrid - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 1:39 pm:

    Tax evasion isn’t a hardship of being poor. Nice gas lighting though.


  15. - City Guy - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 1:46 pm:

    Her response reminds me of a cartoon I saw recently. A man is standing up in the passenger section of an airplane and shouts to his fellow passengers “I’m tired of these known-it-all pilots, lets kick them all out and show them how real people fly a plane”

    (The actual quote was funnier but you get the idea)


  16. - Buzz - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 1:47 pm:

    Not super impressed by her answer. She’s not the only candidate who grew up/has lived working-class. Mendoza comes to mind, I’m sure there are others.


  17. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 1:49 pm:

    Oh please, not paying your taxes on your consulting fees is not about poverty. It is about your selfish choice not to report income and pay taxes when you think you can get away with it. Doing a little back of the envelope math, she likely failed to report more income than a single person in poverty makes in a year.


  18. - Buzz - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 1:50 pm:

    Also, I’m a fan of Eniya — don’t think she’ll get my vote but she’s an impressive candidate.

    Sadly her commercial was really bad and now with this I’m starting to think her campaign team needs some overhaul.


  19. - Perplexed - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 1:53 pm:

    She didn’t take the bar exams because she likely wouldn’t have passed character and fitness, and as such, they wouldn’t have allowed her to sit for it, with all of these legal and credit troubles. It was probably smart not applying for the bar to be honest…she doesn’t appear to have the character to be admitted to the bar. Honesty is important…defaulting everywhere and not paying back money you borrowed and promised to repay is about as dishonest as it gets.


  20. - Rudy's teeth - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 1:57 pm:

    Perhaps Enyia should roll back the rhetoric, pass the bar, and learn to manage her finances before she attempts to sit in the big chair on the fifth floor in City Hall.


  21. - Anon324 - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 2:02 pm:

    One has to wonder if this is at all related to the “unknown and troubling factors” that her former Comms Director mentioned back in December.


  22. - Ravenswood Right Winger - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 2:04 pm:

    That money Chance The Rapper donated to her campaign sure looks like a waste.


  23. - Fuel For the Fire - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 2:07 pm:

    “Struggling” to pay bills is completely different from under reporting your income.


  24. - Rich Miller - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 2:08 pm:

    ===Chance The Rapper donated to her campaign===

    Meh. There’s more where that came from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTMzIZhI7q8


  25. - Anon324 - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 2:08 pm:

    ==That money Chance The Rapper donated to her campaign sure looks like a waste.==

    Probably why he sold out for the Doritos money.


  26. - Truthteller - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 2:08 pm:

    Some people do struggle to pay their bills. She apparently struggles(unsuccessfully) with the truth.


  27. - 44th - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 2:10 pm:

    so Cambry works for Blue1647?

    Enyia also lists Blue1647 on her resume, stating she has been a “senior advisor” to the organization since 2013, and served as its president in 2017.

    The Tribune asked Cambry if Enyia has had a role or title with his organization. “No,” he said.


  28. - City Zen - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 2:14 pm:

    Enyia could pay off all her personal debt and overdue taxes by issuing a pension obligation bond. It’s all the rage these days.


  29. - Soccermom - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 2:15 pm:

    Perplexed, that is way out of line.

    Taking the bar exam is a huge, expensive undertaking. It would have been a waste of months of her life and thousands of dollars if she knew that she wanted to focus on policy rather than practicing law.

    I know Amara, and I like her. I don’t like some of the decisions she’s made in this campaign, but to say that she lacks the character to pass the bar is simply slanderous. If we start denying the bar exam to every recent graduate who falls behind on their student loans, we’re going to lose some excellent young attorneys whose only “character flaw” was a failure to be born into a wealthy family.


  30. - Anonish - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 2:22 pm:

    She could have made some of this part of her narrative from the start but chose to omit or hide it.
    Did she honestly think that this wasn’t going to come out?


  31. - Responsa - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 2:40 pm:

    With the inherent bright lights of politics in play (and with her background) running for public office may not be her best career choice. Just saying.


  32. - Lincoln Lad - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 3:19 pm:

    With the current activity going on in the City Council, to project Amara Enyia as disreputable is beyond the pale. So there’s a published hit job on her, and everyone acts like this? Take your thumb off the scale - her issues are minor to what most on this blog know happens in both the city and in state government routinely. She’s an intelligent person who cares… no wonder she needs to be brushed aside.


  33. - 47th Ward - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 3:24 pm:

    ===She’s an intelligent person who cares… no wonder she needs to be brushed aside.===

    Speaking for myself, I’m not brushing her aside. But using your own logic, don’t you want to know which candidates for mayor are in the race because they desperately need the money? Isn’t that how most pols get in trouble?

    She says nice things. She’s an intelligent person who cares. And she’s not remotely qualified to be an Alderman, much less mayor. But yeah, thanks to some good reporting, I’m sure she needs the paycheck.

    And remember, she had the chance before December 1 to get this info out on her terms. Instead, she chose not to reveal it. Turns out, that was a bad decision.


  34. - Ron Burgundy - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 3:30 pm:

    She may be intelligent and very nice, but to reiterate the question above, what has she remotely done to qualify her to be Mayor of Chicago? I don’t see it.

    Also from the can’t make this up department, her website bio claims credit for creating a video called “Thanks for Paying Your Taxes.”


  35. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 3:33 pm:

    Say she owed $4,000 in taxes in 2015 (chalk up the rest up to fees), and her last income was in the 25% bracket, which is between about $37,000 - $90,000. That would mean she under-reported her income by $16,000 ($4,000 / .25). That is a lot of money to forget, and to me looks pretty bad.


  36. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 3:33 pm:

    This “oppo dump” is so trivial.. “Chicago mayoral candidate is a real person who was not produced in a vat for the express purpose of running for office.” Fixed their headline. Regardless she is not a great candidate and i believe her candidacy will be totally forgettable.


  37. - Lincoln Lad - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 3:41 pm:

    OK - then I guess we all should continue to support machine candidates… despite what that has done to both the city and the state for decades. I for one am not drinking that cool aid, but you’re welcome to. Carry on… I’m sure we’ve heard all that multiple years of wire taps and wired alderman will have to say. The Feds are probably done, we’ve heard it all. Continue as usual..


  38. - Rich Miller - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 3:44 pm:

    === what has she remotely done to qualify her===

    Meh. She’s running. If she wins, she’s qualified.


  39. - 47th Ward - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 3:47 pm:

    ===Continue as usual===

    Google Lori Lightfoot. She’s a smart person who cares. She pays her taxes too.

    The Messiah complex with some of these Amara supporters is unreal.


  40. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 3:48 pm:

    “Taking the bar exam is a huge, expensive undertaking. It would have been a waste of months of her life and thousands of dollars if she knew that she wanted to focus on policy rather than practicing law.”

    Studying for a few months to be admitted to actually practice after spending at least three years to get the degree hardly qualifies as a waste of time. And thousands of dollars? You might want to go check the application fee for the real number. I’ll add in that every person I know who has a law degree who is in public policy, public office, etc., also took the bar.

    If she has some excuses, they better be better than that one. Maybe the Kennedy campaign forgot to send in her bar application for her?


  41. - City Guy - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 4:15 pm:

    Lincoln Lad - Speaking for myself as someone over 50, I have seen too many cases of anti-corruption, anti-machine “reformers” who weren’t. Some went to jail, some should have, some sold out.

    I don’t know enough about Amara, but her alignment with Dorothy Brown was a bad sign. Today’s info has me seeing a lot of yellow flags.

    Listen to The Who - “Won’t Get Fooled Again”.


  42. - SaulGoodman - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 4:16 pm:

    **She wears those struggles as a badge of honor **

    She wears lying about her resume, lying about her taxes, lying ON her taxes, changing her story, etc as a badge of honor?


  43. - Soccermom - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 4:17 pm:

    Anonymous —

    Having paid for the BARBRI bar review course myself, I know how much it costs and how much time it takes.

    If she knew she didn’t want to practice, there’s no reason to take the bar — especially since you have to start paying off your student loans right after graduation. If you don’t have family money or a well-paid spouse, and you don’t have a high-paying job at a lawfirm lined up, it’s a big and unnecessary expense for someone who doesn’t intend to practice.

    I’m not saying that this stuff isn’t problematic. I’m just saying that it probably was not the reason she didn’t take the bar exam.

    Also, she earned a master’s, ph.d., and j.d. from u of i in four years. Maybe the idea of spending another three months in a classroom cramming from the bar exam didn’t appeal.

    How many of the people you know who work in policy have all three of those degrees?

    And I DO know a couple of other people who never took the bar because they knew they weren’t going to practice (they’re journalists, by the way).

    So no, I don’t believe that she decided against taking the bar because she didn’t think she could pass the character and fitness qualification.


  44. - Anon324 - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 4:27 pm:

    I just noticed, she refers to herself as a lawyer on her social media accounts, despite never taking let alone passing any bar exam.


  45. - Soccermom - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 4:30 pm:

    Anon324 — She went to law school, so she’s a lawyer. She’s not licensed to practice. There’s a difference.

    You’re aware that Abraham Lincoln NEVER EVEN WENT TO LAW SCHOOL, right?


  46. - Soccermom - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 4:33 pm:

    Here’s an interesting bit of trivia, btw — A lawyer is someone with a law degree, but an attorney is someone who has a law degree, has passed the bar, and has been admitted into practice. I didn’t know this distinction until now.


  47. - Anon324 - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 4:35 pm:

    Abraham Lincoln was admitted to the bar under the rules, and was, thus, a lawyer and able to hold himself out as such. The fact he didn’t go to law school when the legal model at the time was, by and large, an apprenticeship system, is moot.

    Going to law school and earning a JD means you have a JD. It does not make one a lawyer. Does she hold herself out as one? It sounds like no. But her use of the word “lawyer” when “JD” is a more accurate term is questionable in light of her other resume puffery.


  48. - Anon324 - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 4:38 pm:

    ==Here’s an interesting bit of trivia, btw — A lawyer is someone with a law degree, but an attorney is someone who has a law degree, has passed the bar, and has been admitted into practice. I didn’t know this distinction until now.==

    The ARDC head in charge of regulating this disagrees with your assessment. “To become lawyers, candidates generally spent at least three years in law school, pass a bar examination, and have their backgrounds and character examined during a rigorous admissions process.”

    http://www.illinoiscourts.gov/Media/enews/2017/092717_ARDC.asp


  49. - Soccermom - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 4:40 pm:

    Oh for heaven’s sake.

    https://www.lawyeredu.org/attorney-vs-lawyer.html


  50. - Soccermom - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 4:42 pm:

    Well, this is interesting.

    https://testmaxprep.com/blog/bar-exam/the-bar-exam-a-brief-history

    It turns out that Lincoln didn’t pass the bar exam either.


  51. - Ron Burgundy - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 4:55 pm:

    As much as I am not a fan, she can call herself a lawyer because she has the degree, as long as she doesn’t hold herself out as licensed. Even if just engaging in public policy work, the safe way to go in my opinion is to be licensed if working in a position that might tread the line of practicing law. If it was me, I would play it safe, but the fees are not insignificant.


  52. - Soccermom - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 5:05 pm:

    Ron — The fees for the review course are fairly major, and the opportunity costs are huge (i.e., three months pretty much without income, if you’re not working at a firm that will put you on salary while you study.)

    I’m with you — I’d probably take the bar exam as well. But that means you then are signing up for years of CLE, or otherwise you let your license expire. And that raises more issues. So I can understand the reasoning of someone who opts not to take the bar. And again, I know at least three people who have gone through law school and haven’t taken the bar.


  53. - Pundent - Monday, Feb 4, 19 @ 5:12 pm:

    Whether she’s an “attorney” or “lawyer” seems to be a silly debate at this point. She’s got a law degree (and several others) and no one can deny that.

    More important is that she’s claiming to have been the president of Blue1647 in 2017 and they say it never happened. Doesn’t seem to be much gray area there.


  54. - Emanuel Collective - Tuesday, Feb 5, 19 @ 12:08 pm:

    Perhaps in Europe and other common law countries, there may be a distinction between “lawyer” and “attorney.” There is not one in the US, and the Illinois ARDC can and will impose severe sanctions on non-attorneys who profess to be lawyers and/or offer legal advice.


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