Mayor Rahm Emanuel draws Hollywood backing thanks to agent-brother Ari Emanuel
BY DAN MIHALOPOULOS AND CHRIS FUSCO Staff Reporters April 16, 2013 2:56PM
Mayor Rahm Emanuel. | John H. White~Chicago Sun-Times file photo
Updated: May 18, 2013 6:40AM
Now halfway into his four-year term, Mayor Rahm Emanuel again has been able to attract major campaign contributions from Hollywood stars, thanks to his super-agent brother Ari Emanuel.
More than 55 percent of contributions reported by the mayor’s political fund since the start of the year have come from out of state, according to documents filed this week with the Illinois State Board of Elections.
Of more than $426,000 that Emanuel has taken in since Jan. 1, records show only $126,000 was donated by contributors from Chicago and another $62,240 from the suburbs.
Meanwhile, Emanuel got $237,800 from outside Illinois, with more than $150,000 from southern California contributors, including $54,300 from Los Angeles and $30,900 from Beverly Hills.
Among the mayor’s recent marquee contributors:
◆ Ronald Meyer, NBC Universal’s president and chief operating officer, $5,300.
◆ Robert A. Iger, chairman and CEO of The Walt Disney Co., $5,300.
◆ TV and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, whose works include HBO’s current “The Newsroom,” former NBC hits “The West Wing” and the 1995 movie “The American President,” $2,500.
◆ Michael Eisner, former CEO of The Walt Disney Co., $5,200.
◆ Movie studio Lionsgate Entertainment, $10,500.
As he had done during his older brother’s first run for mayor in the 2011 election, Ari Emanuel organized a fund-raiser that the mayor attended in California earlier this year, said John Kupper, a spokesman for the mayor’s political organization.
“Rahm is a national figure and has friends and supporters all over the country,” Kupper said. “The fact that these people are contributing to him isn’t all that suprising, and I don’t think the people of Chicago will find it all that surprising either.”
Kupper said the recent fund-raising was done with an eye toward the next election for mayor, in 2015. Emanuel has said he has no interest in running for president in 2016.
“He’s taken on some pretty strong interests in his two years as mayor,” Kupper said. “He fully expects there will be a strong challenge, so he’s getting prepared. If you know Rahm’s political history, he’s generally not one caught flat-footed. This is what a smart candidate does.”
The mayor’s political fund had a little more than $1.9 million in it at the end of March — a head start that could intimidate potential 2015 challengers.
For the 2011 election, Emanuel raised a record amount for a mayoral race. His entertainment-industry backing in that campaign — before Illinois imposed limits on political campaign contributions — included hundreds of thousands of dollars from luminaries including director Steven Spielberg, music producer David Geffen and billionaire Haim Saban.
The West Coast connection gives the mayor an advantage over would-be rivals. None of Emanuel’s recent supporters from Southern California has ever given campaign money to any other Illinois politicians, according to the election board’s website.
Stars drawn toward the mayor were not only Hollywood names. The parent company of the Girl & the Goat, a West Loop restaurant co-owned by celebrity chef Stephanie Izard, pitched in $5,000.
Twenty-two lawyers from the downtown firm of Winston & Strawn LLP gave Emanuel a total of $23,500.
A separate political committee that Emanuel uses to support friendly candidates and pay political consultants has reported donations of more than $125,500 this year. That fund, called the Chicago Committee, spent more than $55,000 in March to pay Washington pollster Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research Inc. The Chicago Committee was left with more than $6,000 and owed nearly $143,000, mostly for polling, at the end of last month.