Campaign Reports: Local Aldermen With Clout Raise More Money

By Sam Charles | Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Political committees in support of 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney have taken in more than $150,000 so far in 2012. Credit: Sarah Tilotta

State and municipal campaign committees’ quarterly finance statements were due Oct. 15, and not surprisingly, area Aldermen and Democratic Ward Committeemen with the most clout finished the period with the biggest political wallets.

Many area aldermen who double as Democratic Ward Committeemen, including Tom Tunney (44th), Richard Mell (33rd), Patrick O’Connor (40th) and Scott Waguespack (32nd) have not only their a campaign committee but also raise money for committees operated by their ward organizations. In the weeks leading up to the November 6 general election, many of these committees will be spending cash to help drive voters to the polls.

Of the aldermen in the Roscoe View and Center Square areas, only Ameya Pawar (47th) is not a ward committeeman.

Tunney, Mell and O’Connor each exercise a great deal of influence in City Council. Ald. Tunney represents one of the city’s most economically vital business corridors, East Lakeview, and sits on the two most powerful committees, Finance and Zoning. Ald. Mell is chair of the powerful Rules Committee, through which every piece of Council legislation must pass, giving him an effective veto power over all Council business. Ald. O’Connor is Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s unofficial Council floor leader, acting as the Mayor’s representative in Council matters.

At the end of each quarterly reporting period, political campaign committees are required to disclose how much money they have on hand. As of Sept. 30: Tunney-related committees had $277,087.48; Mell-related committees had $162,684.29; O’Connor, who only has one committee, had $135,820.42; Pawar’s one committee had $21,067.65; and the one Waguespack-related committee had $17,684.34, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections.

Tunney has two committees dedicated to his success in public office, Citizens for Tom Tunney and the 44th Ward Regular Democratic Organization. Mell also has two, Citizens for Mell and the 33rd Ward Regular Democratic Organization. Pawar has only one committee as well, Friends of Ameya Pawar. Waguespack and O’Connor also each have one committee, Citizens for Waguespeck and Citizens for Patrick O’Connor.

Committees receive money from a variety of donors, but a large portion of their income is from businesses and residents within a candidate’s area of governance—in the case of aldermen, their wards. But donations are not restricted to ward residents, city residents or state residents. Any contribution to a committee of $1,000 or more must be individually announced on the Illinois Board of Elections website.

In addition to having the most money on hand, committees supporting Tunney, Mell, O’Connor also brought in the most money from contributions during the first three reporting periods this year. Tunney’s have raised $154,592, Mell’s have brought in $141,232.68 and O’Connor’s committee has raised $195,774.40 since the start of the year.

Expenditures are monitored just as closely as their contributions, typically going toward paying for staff, office space, ads and web site hosting.

In the first three reporting periods of 2012 the committees’ expenditures totaled: $182,510.07 spent by Tunney-related committees, $198,137.55 spent by Mell-related committees. $61,762.86 spent by Waguespack’s committee, $67,462.90 spent by Pawar’s committee and $185,464.25 spent by O’Connor’s committee, according to the Illinois State Board of Elections.

The next reporting period for committees ends Dec. 31.

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