Willie Wilson criticizes Lightfoot’s new foundation

Chicago businessman Willie Wilson fooled Mayor Laurie Lightfoot over a committee created by her allies that is not bound by how much money contributors can contribute or who they are – Lightfoot’s limits must follow.

“This is wrong. You don’t really run the city for the people; you’re running this city for a select few people who have the money to … buy it and control the other million or 2 million people in Chicago,” Wilson said at a news conference Wednesday morning. “This is completely wrong.”

Committee 77run by Lightfoot’s longtime chief adviser, is allowed to accept unlimited funds, including from city contractors who are strictly required by city ethics rules to contribute to Lightfoot’s campaign fund or Lightfoot’s political action committee.

Establishment of a new independent expenditure committee in October highlights the political fight that Lightfoot’s supporters can expect in the coming months, as well as the significant loopholes that exist in campaign finance laws and city ethics rules that are designed to limit the influence of political supporters on the actions of government elected officials.

While the Committee of 77 has no limits on how much money it can receive and from whom, as an independent spending committee it cannot coordinate with Lightfoot or any political campaigns. He has already received $100,000 from politically connected companies — $80,000 from a ping-pong company whose chairman also heads an information technology company that does business with the city, and $20,000 from a South Side construction company that includes on the city’s contractor list, and is also working on the Obama Presidential Center.

Additionally, the committee is chaired by Sean Harden, who also heads the nonprofit Friend Health, which recently opened a health center in Woodlawn. expected to receive $8 million in tax increment financing incentives from the city.

The new committee follows in the footsteps of Lightfoot’s predecessor, former Mayor Rahm Emanuel, whose allies built a massive campaign fund that raised more than $5 million in one year to help Emanuel win a second term.

At his news conference, Wilson said he would create an ethics office to deal with potential conflicts of interest, but it was unclear how that would work. Committee of 77 is a perfectly legal way to circumvent local campaign donation laws.

Dave Mellett, the committee’s executive director, declined to comment.

A spokesperson for Lightfoot released a statement saying Committee 77 “is a completely independent entity from the company and we have no connection or influence over their strategy or operations. Mr. Wilson, however, is throwing stones from a glass house when it comes to campaign finance — he’s self-funding his own campaign and refusing to back down from the commander-in-chief of ethical misconduct: Donald Trump. We will continue to focus on our own campaign apparatus and will do so in accordance with the law.”

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