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Accused of wage theft and minimum wage violations, former progressive candidate blames staff

Wednesday, Jul 31, 2019

* NBC 5

Two dozen ex-employees of former Chicago mayoral candidate Amara Enyia filed a wage theft grievance on Monday, accusing Enyia and her top staffers of owing them thousands of dollars in unpaid wages.

In a statement on the grievance, the group said Enyia’s campaign committee owed the 24 staffers a combined total of $56,825 in unpaid wages, overtime pay, minimum wage violations and unreimbursed expenses. […]

The statement did not identify the 24 staffers but said that they worked on Enyia’s field, communications, research and events staff and were initially promised repayment of campaign debt by March 15.

* Politico

Amara Enyia, the political phenom who energized the mayoral election earlier this year, is in the spotlight again. She’s being considered for the top job with the City Council’s Progressive Reform Caucus — but the move comes just as she’s being slapped with a lawsuit by two dozen former campaign staffers who say they haven’t been paid.

In a statement to Playbook, Enyia pushed back against the “unsettling” allegations.

She said that after losing in the first round of the mayor’s race, her staffers voted on whether to endorse either Lori Lightfoot or Toni Preckwinkle, or stay neutral. They voted for the latter and as a result, Enyia’s campaign didn’t get any assistance to pay off campaign debt. “The team decided that the values of being able to hold leadership accountable outweighed the monetary compensation they were due,” Enyia said in the statement. “That voluntary team decision was key because it meant the team knew fundraising post-campaign would be a challenge.”

Enyia says there have been two fundraisers and that “partial payments” were made to her staff as “a show of good faith.”

Partial payments? Election day was February 26th. Her campaign finance disclosures show that four of her 24 employees were paid on February 27 and 28 and nobody else received any payroll distributions through June 30th. Maybe she paid some people this month.

* Odd…


Click here and search for “Oakley” and you’ll see the issue.

* This isn’t the first time she’s had money issues

The Tribune reported Enyia did not report to the IRS $21,000 paid to her by Chris Kennedy’s governor campaign, for which she worked as a consultant for several months. Enyia called it an oversight.

The Tribune also revealed that Enyia owed more than $73,000 in fines to the Illinois State Board of Elections for failing to file campaign fund disclosures after her failed 2015 mayoral bid, which was far less successful than the 2019 candidacy. [Kanye West] made a donation to pay that fine.

Weeks before the election, Enyia’s former campaign spokeswoman filed a lawsuit alleging the candidate refused to pay her $24,000 for four months of work.

* He’s not totally wrong here…


- Posted by Rich Miller        

44 Comments
  1. - Zygote - Wednesday, Jul 31, 19 @ 12:59 pm:

    Another darling of the progressive movement who needs to fade into Bolivia, to quote Mike Tyson.


  2. - Roman - Wednesday, Jul 31, 19 @ 1:05 pm:

    == Amara Enyia, the political phenom ==

    Huh?


  3. - NIU Grad - Wednesday, Jul 31, 19 @ 1:06 pm:

    “he said that after losing in the first round of the mayor’s race, her staffers voted on whether to endorse either Lori Lightfoot or Toni Preckwinkle, or stay neutral.”

    Either this is hard to believe or it seems like a very strange thing for a candidate to do. Why run for an executive position if you need others to vote on who you, personally, feel you should support?


  4. - Responsa - Wednesday, Jul 31, 19 @ 1:14 pm:

    It’s really easy to be turned off by politics and politicians in general right now.


  5. - Lefty Lefty - Wednesday, Jul 31, 19 @ 1:15 pm:

    Well, Mr. Wehrli is totally wrong on the “mandating $15.00 minimum wage” and the “free everything” parts. Come on.


  6. - City Zen - Wednesday, Jul 31, 19 @ 1:15 pm:

    What’s the Chance she’ll look West to find someone to cover her debts?


  7. - Regular democrat - Wednesday, Jul 31, 19 @ 1:16 pm:

    Roman u beat me to the post. I thought CTR was her main donor. Sonething not adding up here. That was some spin they spun up


  8. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, Jul 31, 19 @ 1:17 pm:

    Re: Wehrli, he’s not wrong other than being completely wrong since 1) she hasn’t been hired 2) “free everything” is a purposefully false and inflammatory right-wing talking point 3) the city council’s progressive caucus could not and did not have the power to institute a higher minimum wage on its own 4) neither the city or state have a current $15 minimum wage and 5) only the state has passed, let alone enacted, legislation to have a $15 schedule for the minimum wage, which isn’t until 2025 (currently the city is at $13)


  9. - JKR - Wednesday, Jul 31, 19 @ 1:24 pm:

    It will be interesting to see if the progressive caucus will hold itself to the same puritanical ethical standards that it wants to hold everyone else to in politics?


  10. - Amalia - Wednesday, Jul 31, 19 @ 1:25 pm:

    and you wonder why Democratic moderates have things to say….


  11. - njt - Wednesday, Jul 31, 19 @ 1:25 pm:

    ===What’s the Chance she’ll look West to find someone to cover her debts?===

    A bit off topic but if you have listened to the album you know that money source is going to evaporate quickly.


  12. - @misterjayem - Wednesday, Jul 31, 19 @ 1:29 pm:

    “the political phenom who energized the mayoral election earlier this year”

    The political phenom finished in sixth place.

    – MrJM


  13. - Really - Wednesday, Jul 31, 19 @ 1:30 pm:

    It is actually worse than Werhli implied. She failed to pay them at the current minimum wage. Not a good look for a so called Progressive.


  14. - Pundent - Wednesday, Jul 31, 19 @ 1:33 pm:

    Being an independent I have no problem at all in having equal distain for Enyia and Wehrli. There’s an abundance of hypocrisy on both ends of the spectrum. Makes me lonely in the middle.


  15. - NIU Grad - Wednesday, Jul 31, 19 @ 1:33 pm:

    “the political phenom who energized the mayoral election earlier this year”

    More like: “the political phenom who energized local media during the mayoral election earlier this year”


  16. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jul 31, 19 @ 1:41 pm:

    ===Amara Enyia, the political phenom===

    … then Erika Harold must be a legend by now.


  17. - JKR - Wednesday, Jul 31, 19 @ 1:48 pm:

    == then Erika Harold must be a legend by now==

    Not when the Lawrence Welk Foundation is your only musical donor.


  18. - Just Me 2 - Wednesday, Jul 31, 19 @ 1:54 pm:

    I love how she is blaming her campaign staff for her unwillingness to endorse one of the winners, and admitting that endorsing one of the winners includes getting money to pay off debt. Totally Chicago way.


  19. - Gooner - Wednesday, Jul 31, 19 @ 1:54 pm:

    There is a broader lesson here.
    Certain people run for office and then do not pay staff.

    Bob Fioretti is at the top of the list.
    Now Enyia.

    If people want to support the person, that’s their option.
    But if you do work for the campaign, don’t expect to be paid.


  20. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jul 31, 19 @ 1:59 pm:

    Here’s the ball game, for me;

    Terribly run losing campaigns usually begin by being terrible with a candidate that is probably not ready for prime time… then the candidate and the campaign do head scratching things… then everyone eventually turns on everyone… because of money.

    Amara Enyia isn’t a phenom.

    Amara Enyia is your garden variety losing candidate, with typical losing mistakes that lead to hard feelings, minimum, and lawsuits at the extremes.

    Amara Enyia is comical, and not ready for a big stage.


  21. - Thomas Paine - Wednesday, Jul 31, 19 @ 2:02 pm:

    She has a document signed by all those employees forfeiting the debt? LOL of course not.

    They probably assumed Chance was going to write another check, which was reasonable.


  22. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Wednesday, Jul 31, 19 @ 2:06 pm:

    Trying to justify not paying your campaign workers by claiming they voted to not be paid and stay neutral in the runoff just seem so disingenuous and manipulative. I highly doubt any of her campaign workers thought they were voting to not be paid.


  23. - Hermosa - Wednesday, Jul 31, 19 @ 2:25 pm:

    @Oswego Willy @ 1:59p absolutely nailed it.


  24. - Yosemite Sam - Wednesday, Jul 31, 19 @ 2:28 pm:

    “What’s the Chance she’ll look West to find someone to cover her debts?”- City Zen -
    I hope Chance The Snapper helps her out.


  25. - Ron Burgundy - Wednesday, Jul 31, 19 @ 2:35 pm:

    Candidate with history of irregularities in her employment history and personal finances, as well as campaign finances, and a repeated failure to take responsibility for such actions continues to act in accordance with her history and keeps selling herself as a progressive leader in the making. Future buyers beware.


  26. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jul 31, 19 @ 2:40 pm:

    (Tips cap to - Hermosa -)

    Chance took a chance, now everyone is fighting for change, spare change, that is…

    Amara Enyia, the only thing remarkable about the run was it garnered attention.


  27. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jul 31, 19 @ 2:40 pm:

    Burgundy pretty much nailed it.


  28. - benniefly2 - Wednesday, Jul 31, 19 @ 2:46 pm:

    So if she didn’t pay wages, does that mean I can assume that she also did not pay the required payroll taxes either? If so, isn’t that a federal crime?


  29. - SN1789 - Wednesday, Jul 31, 19 @ 3:02 pm:

    Other than bluster what makes Enyia “progressive”? She has the resume of a professional class neoliberal.


  30. - Dupage Bard - Wednesday, Jul 31, 19 @ 3:16 pm:

    Maybe she can get a job with a marijuana company?


  31. - Hypocrisy Watch - Wednesday, Jul 31, 19 @ 3:19 pm:

    Just like Bernie Sanders. The media should ask all dem candidate for president if they will pay all their staff’s college debt, health care costs, $15 minimum wage, paid sick leave, etc. When it’s campaign dollars that rely on receivable and expenditures, funny how these campaigns can’t make it work. Welcome to running a business! But, when it’s taxpayer money, it’s a very simple thing to do.


  32. - Just A Fan - Wednesday, Jul 31, 19 @ 3:19 pm:

    I don’t know what to say!? I wonder what she would have done with the city’s finances if she won?


  33. - revvedup - Wednesday, Jul 31, 19 @ 3:39 pm:

    Nothing like being a Progressive who’s regressive. I mean, the staff might as well have worked for the opposition; at least they’d more likely get paid.


  34. - Boone's is Back - Wednesday, Jul 31, 19 @ 3:43 pm:

    Imagine the outrage that Amara would have had for an establishment candidate who pulled that.


  35. - DIstant watcher - Wednesday, Jul 31, 19 @ 3:57 pm:

    @Hypocrisy Waych: There’s no hypocrisy in running a campaign (or a business) under the current rules while saying you’d like to change rules.

    But nice try to make it harder for people who disagree with you.


  36. - Chicago Cynic - Wednesday, Jul 31, 19 @ 4:08 pm:

    “Being an independent I have no problem at all in having equal distain for Enyia and Wehrli.”

    Being a Democrat I have no problem at all in having equal disdain for Enyia and Wehrli.

    As to Enyia, her arrogance in thinking she was qualified to be Mayor given her financial history is astonishing and sad. I’ve met her many times. She’s very nice and pretty smart. But if you can’t handle your own finances properly what makes you think you can handle the massive budget problems of the City of Chicago. This episode just demonstrates her lack of financial discipline all over again.

    It would seem like a pretty dumb decision for the progressive caucus to take on her baggage in this role.


  37. - Amalia - Wednesday, Jul 31, 19 @ 4:14 pm:

    Fauxgressive


  38. - JoanP - Wednesday, Jul 31, 19 @ 4:18 pm:

    =She’s being considered for the top job with the City Council’s Progressive Reform Caucus=

    As long as they don’t make her Treasurer.


  39. - SaulGoodman - Wednesday, Jul 31, 19 @ 4:19 pm:

    **Being a Democrat I have no problem at all in having equal disdain for Enyia and Wehrli.**

    Being a progressive I have no problem at all in having equal disdain for Enyia and Wehrli. Enyia has been a fraud from day 1.


  40. - Mr. Smith - Wednesday, Jul 31, 19 @ 4:28 pm:

    If this proves to be fully accurate, she should have a political future just about as bright as that of Bruce Rauner.


  41. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Wednesday, Jul 31, 19 @ 4:47 pm:

    ==Well, Mr. Wehrli is totally wrong on the “mandating $15.00 minimum wage” and the “free everything” parts. Come on.==

    Mr Wehrli also said this was the Chicago way. What makes it the Chicago way? How is this unique to Chicago?


  42. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jul 31, 19 @ 4:50 pm:

    If i was Mr. Wehrli, I’d put Auditor Mautino on this.

    Phonies are gonna phony, and Mr. Wehrli isn’t close to the real deal.


  43. - Dotnonymous - Wednesday, Jul 31, 19 @ 5:29 pm:

    - Amalia - Wednesday, Jul 31, 19 @ 4:14 pm:

    Fauxgressive

    That’s funny…and accurate…if you ask me.


  44. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Wednesday, Jul 31, 19 @ 6:08 pm:

    ==As to Enyia, her arrogance in thinking she was qualified to be Mayor given her financial history is astonishing and sad.==

    Not just that but as boss (and being mayor is being the boss of bosses)you have to be able to communicate to subordinates. How does she tell people they are giving up their paychecks but they don’t know they’re giving up their paychecks? And would 24 people really give up their paychecks just like that?


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