TGIF, Illinois. Hat tip to the candidates out gathering signatures in the dead of winter. Temps are supposed to be 25 tomorrow.
Programming Note: We’ll be off Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day but will be back in your inboxes Tuesday.
A report by Crain’s Greg Hinz is raising questions about City Clerk Anna Valencia’s email communications and whether she tried to curry favor on behalf of the company that employs her husband.
Valencia wrote or received “more than 600 emails on her official Chicago city email account referencing her husband, one of his lobbyist clients, or both,” Hinz reports, adding that Valencia’s office has so far “refused to release copies of those emails.”
The response to the Freedom of Information Act request says the submission needs to be “narrowed.”
Playbook obtained a few separate emails through an ally of Alexi Giannoulias, a rival of Valencia’s in the Democratic primary for secretary of state. (Ald. David Moore is also in the race but staying out of the fray for now.)
Those emails show how Valencia, while working in the mayor’s office in 2016, connected a person in Monterrey Security with city officials for a board appointment and finagled an invite to meet a dignitary in the mayor’s office.
Monterrey VP Patricia Gaytan Perez was appointed to a coveted position on the Chicago Public Library Board, according to her LinkedIn, and went on to donate to Valencia’s campaign for clerk.
In 2017, Monterrey hired Valencia’s husband, Reyahd Kazmi, as a lobbyist, and Valencia received campaign donations from the company.
A spokeswoman for Valencia calls Hinz’s story a nothingburger, saying Kazmi didn’t work for the company when Valencia was interacting with it (though it should be noted that the FOIA request calls for emails while Valencia was clerk, too).
“It’s no surprise that Alexi Giannoulias has turned to the Republican playbook of ‘what about her emails?’ in a desperate attempt to cover up for his own misdeeds — a failed bank, mob connections and losing working families’ hard-earned college savings. To suggest that scheduling-related emails between spouses are in the same league as his corrupt history is absurd,” Valencia campaign spokeswoman Payal Patel said in a statement.
She was referring to the collapse of Broadway Bank during the recession. The bank, which was founded by Giannoulias’ late father, had a history of helping immigrant families — including, at one time, mobsters — before becoming one of the most profitable banks in the state.
Valencia’s emails may be nothing more than a hill of beans. Or they might be meaty enough to appear in political ads leading up to the primary.
1ST DISTRICT DOMINOES: Retiring Rep. Bobby Rush has endorsed Karin Norington-Reaves in the Dem primary for his House seat: “Rush and Norington-Reaves first met in 2014, after a local teacher, Betty Howard, was killed by ‘random gunfire’ in Chatham, her campaign said. Norington-Reaves worked with Rush in establishing the Chatham Education and Workforce Center,” by Sun-Times’ Lynn Sweet.
Chicago Ald. Pat Dowell, the frontrunner in the race right now, responded, saying, “Congressman Bobby Rush has given a lifetime of service to the people of the 1st Congressional District. To succeed him, the people need a Congresswoman who has real experience in a legislative body, building coalitions, guiding legislation and chairing an influential committee.”
State Sen. Jacqueline Collins has officially joined the race. “I have a record of activism and legislative accomplishments that most mirror the 1st Congressional District’s progressive profile of civic engagement,” she told Playbook in a text.
But, but, but… Along with gathering signatures for the IL-01 seat, Collins will also pass out petitions for the state Senate seat she holds. She told Playbook she’d have “a formal announcement in the near future” about which contest she’ll ultimately pursue in the primary.
State Sen. Robert Peters, who considered running for Rush’s seat, is running for reelection instead. “I really didn’t want to risk it to go to D.C. right now, where there’s a risk of being in the minority party,” he said,” he told Hyde Park Herald’s Aaron Gettinger
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— SCOTUS blocks Biden’s workplace vaccine rule: “But the justices ruled that a separate federal policy insisting that many health care workers be vaccinated could move forward,” by POLITICO’s Eleanor Mueller and Josh Gersttein.
— Four Omicron myths: Dispelling misguided and ‘flat out harmful’ theories about the still dangerous variant — and that part is no myth, by Sun-Times’ Mitchell Armentrout.
— Some Illinois residents are using a new law to rid their property records of racist language: “A new state law is now in effect, which allows individuals, condo associations and other property owners to request that their local county recorder get rid of illegal restrictive covenants. The language commonly either barred Black people or explicitly deemed properties to be ‘white only,’” by WBEZ’s Natalie Moore.
— DCFS director held in contempt of court in third child’s case: “A Cook County judge on Thursday issued the order in the case of a 17-year-old boy who has been languishing in a psychiatric hospital since Sept. 10 because the state child welfare agency has nowhere to place him,” by Sun-Times’ Madeline Kenney.
— New buildings may soon be required to support electric vehicle charging stations, by State Journal-Register’s Andrew Adams.
— AG Kwame Raoul announces student debt settlement with Navient: “One of the nation’s largest student loan servicers will pay borrowers $95 million, cancel $1.7 billion in debt,” by Sun-Times’ Andy Grimm.
— Rep. Ryan Spain files to repeal bill that he sys ‘led to crime wave,’ by Heart of Illinois ABC News
— After violent day, top cop emphasizes how many guns have been seized just 13 days into the year: 284: “The news conference came the day after two 14-year-old boys were killed in separate shootings, a pregnant woman was fatally shot in Englewood, and a mass shooting in the Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood wounded four,” by Sun-Times’ Madeline Kenney.
— Lightfoot renews stalled push for plan to go after gangs’ profits as opponents mobilize: “Alderpeople will be briefed on the original proposal starting Friday. A hearing and a vote is expected at the meeting of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee set for Jan. 21,” by WTTW’s Heather Cherone.
— Pilsen metal shredder could become next big environmental battle in Chicago: “Sims Metal Management faces scrutiny as it applies for a new permit from Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s administration and two additional approvals from Gov. J.B. Pritzker,” by Sun-Times’ Brett Chase.
— Frustrated by public schools’ union battles, a growing number of parents enroll kids in Catholic schools, by Tribune’s Karen Ann Cullotta
— This officer is trying to fix the relationship between Chicago police and families of murder victims, by WBEZ’s Patrick Smith
— Antenna installed in Big Marsh Park will allow scientists to track migratory birds passing through Chicago, by Tribune’s Morgan Greene
— Would a landmark designation protect Promontory Point’s limestone? Molly Morrow reports for South Side Weekly
IL Supreme Court to decide if ‘transportation lockbox’ amendment applies to Cook County, as well as the state: “Attorneys for a coalition of road and transportation contractors squared off against attorneys for Cook County, presenting oral arguments over how best to interpret and apply the language of the Illinois constitution’s Safe Roads Amendment to money raised under certain taxes imposed by Cook County and other local governments,” by Cook County Record’s Jonathan Bilyk.
— REFUTING THE RUMBLE: Ken Griffin’s team is challenging a story that suggests he personally invested in Rumble, a website known for spreading misinformation about vaccines and the 2020 election.
The back story: Cantor Fitzgerald, a New York-based financial services firm, created an investment vehicle in February 2021 that Citadel, Griffin’s hedge fund, invested in. In December, Cantor merged it with Rumble, a decision Citadel was not involved in, according to Citadel spokesperson Zia Ahmed. Citadel invests in thousands of companies and Griffin does not decide which ones to invest in — rather it’s the more than one hundred portfolio managers at Citadel who do, Ahmed said. Citadel holds a $7 million investment in the Rumble, according to his firm.
Regarding whether Griffin believes in vaccines or the validity of the 2020 presidential election, Ahmed noted that Griffin donated more than $45 million toward Covid-related aid, including for vaccine research and development at the start of the pandemic. Griffin was also among the largest donors to President Biden’s inaugural committee, underscoring “his belief in the vital importance of the peaceful transfer of power,” Ahmed said.
— Where Ken Griffin is donating ahead of the midterms: “Griffin’s largest reported donation, so far, is $1 million that went to the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super-PAC supporting House Republicans. He has also given $514,900 to Take Back The House 2022, a joint fundraising committee that raises money for House GOP members who won by narrow margins last cycle,” reports Forbes’ Michela Tindera.
— Building on the suspense: We told you earlier this week not to be surprised if Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin entered the GOP race for governor on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. And we’re hearing that’s the case. Still up in the air is whether he will have the backing of Ken Griffin, who hasn’t yet committed to a candidate. WTTW’s Paris Schutz has more on Irvin, Griffin and the governor’s race
— 6th DISTRICT NEWS: Republican candidate removed from his school board seat after suing over mask mandate: “Rob Cruz, an Oak Lawn resident who’s running for the 6th House District seat now held by Democrat Sean Casten of Downers Grove, was elected to the school board last year,” by Daily Herald’s Russell Lissau.
… Orland Park Mayor Keith Pekau, also a Republican candidate in the 6th, has been endorsed by five elected officials in his run for Congress in the newly redrawn 6th District. Backing him are Tim McCarthy, Retired Secret Service Agent and Former Orland Park Police Chief; Sean Morrison, Cook County Commissioner and Cook County Republican Party Chairman; Mike Fricilone, Will County Board Member and former 3rd Congressional District Republican nominee; Dan Patlak, Former Cook County Board Review Member; Brent Woods, Palos Township Supervisor Pro-Tem.
… Democratic Rep. Sean Casten has secured endorsements from five union locals in his bid for re-election in the 6th District. The unions include Heat and Frost Insulators Local 17, Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers Administrative District Council 1, SMART Local 265, Ironworkers Local 393, and Teamsters Local 673.
… And Democratic Rep. Marie Newman has received endorsements from the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District Lodge 19, the Railroad District.
— Attorney General Kwame Raoul responded to news that he has a GOP candidate in his reelection bid. “I look forward to debating the issues and challenges that matter most to voters across Illinois. This election comes at a critical time for our state as we continue to combat Republican attacks on our democracy, our access to health care and reproductive rights, and our right to vote,” he said in a statement. Republican Steve Kim officially announced his candidacy yesterday.
— State Rep. Daniel Didech, a Democrat from Buffalo Grove, will seek a third term in the 59th District. Last year, Didech was one of the 19 Democrats who demanded new leadership in the state House, which led to Rep. Emanuel “Chris” Welch being named speaker.
— Democrat Erin Slone is kicking off her campaign for state representative in the 79th District. Slone, a business consultant with a background in municipal finance, is currently a Village Trustee in Park Forest.
— Hoan Huynh is pivoting his campaign. The community leader and entrepreneur is running in IL-13, the seat being vacated by House Majority Leader Greg Harris. Huynh had initially thrown his hat in for IL-5 but his northside residence was not included in the remap.
— Nabeela Syed, a community organizer and Democratic candidate for the 51st District in the state House has been endorsed by state Rep. Mark Walker.
— Hot mic on internet livestream catches Cook County judge ridiculing attorney after hearing: “Can you imagine waking up next to her every day? Oh, my God,” Judge William Raines said of attorney Jennifer Bonjean. “… I couldn’t have a visual on that if you paid me.” Tribune’s Megan Crepeau reports
— NATIONAL SPOTLIGHT: Judge tosses teen’s sexual assault conviction, drawing outrage: “Drew Clinton, 18, faced four years in prison under Illinois sentencing guidelines. But the judge, Robert Adrian, overturned his conviction this month, saying the sentence was ‘not just,’” via the New York Times.
— Illinois court sends pipeline plans back to regulators: “The court has set aside a decision by state regulators that would allow the Dakota Access oil pipeline to double capacity to 1.1 million barrels daily.
How Oregon became America’s newest capital of illegal weed: “Legalization was supposed to take care of the black market. It hasn’t worked out that way,” by POLITICO’s Natalie Fertig.
We asked where political candidates might find crowds to get signatures for their petitions: Journalist Bob Skolnik suggests high school basketball games: “I once saw Pat Quinn getting petition signatures at Fenwick where his brother was the varsity boys basketball coach.” Playbooker John Straus says outside any Starbucks is a good bet. Nancy Shepherdson, a current Democratic state central committeewoman running for election in IL-05, says drive-through petitioning is the way to go. And Jenner & Block comms manager Samantha Budde states the obvious: “Clearly the best place to find crowds right now is at Covid testing sites.”
For those working at home, when did your work life collide with family life in your house? Email [email protected]
— What Democrats put in their voting rights megabill — and what got left out, by POLITICO’s Zach Montellaro
— Democrats start building their 2022 case assuming BBB will fail, by POLITICO’s Christopher Cadelago
— Prosecutors charge Oath Keepers leader, 10 others with seditious conspiracy, by POLITICO’s Kyle Cheney, Betsy Woodruff Swan and Josh Gerstein
— How Biden swung for filibuster reform — and missed with Manchin and Sinema, by POLITICO’s Burgess Everett, Marianne LeVine and Laura Barron-Lopez
— Newsom denies parole of RFK assassin Sirhan Sirhan, by POLITICO’s Jeremy B. White
Fermilab Director Nigel Lockyer has been honored by the Queen of England. | Photo courtesy of Fermilab
— Fermilab director Nigel Lockyer has been honored by Queen Elizabeth II in the British monarch’s annual New Year’s list. Nigel, a British American experimental particle physicist, was made an MBE — or Member of the Order of the British Empire — by the Queen. Other notable names honored include actor Daniel Craig, famous for playing James Bond, and tennis player Emma Raducanu, who won the 2021 US Open. The honors come as Nigel wraps up his career at Fermilab. He’s stepping down in the spring.
— Behind-the-scenes players have been named fellows of the Civic Leadership Academy based at the University of Chicago Center for Effective Government and Harris School of Public Policy. Among them: Megan Cunningham, managing deputy commissioner of the Chicago Public Health Department; Scott Smith, chief comms officer for the Cook County Assessor’s Office; and Roy Walker III, dean of Health Sciences & Career Programs at Malcolm X College. Full list of fellows here.
— Mellody Hobson, co-CEO of Ariel Investments, will receive this year’s Lincoln Leadership Prize, via the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation
— Rep. Rodney Davis’ staff is divided on his new beard.
— Springfield Police Chief Kenny Winslow to retire Jan. 28: “The 51-year-old Alton native has served with the Springfield police 27 years in all,” by State Journal-Register’s Steven Spearie.
— Nicole Haley has been tapped to run Protect Our Care’s Coronavirus War Room through 2022. She previously worked as research director for Vote Yes for Fairness, an Illinois ballot initiative, and is an alum of Priorities USA, American Bridge and Hillary for America. Protect Our Care promotes the Affordable Care Act.
THURSDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to journalist Bill Cameron for correctly answering that North Avenue Bridge was named after legendary Pulitzer Prize-winning Sun-Times crime reporter and WLS TV commentator Art Petacque in 1991.
TODAY’s QUESTION: Which Chicago mayor used to cook for their college football team? Email [email protected]
Today: Former Cook County Board President Todd Stroger, Chicago Realtors Association’s Kristopher Anderson, and singer and nonprofit leader Maria Kotsinis.
Saturday: Federal Reserve Bank President Charles Evans, Instacart public policy manager Kelley Foxx, and U. of I. enrollment leader Erik Rankin.
Sunday: State Rep. Anne Stava-Murray, Chicago Clerk Anna Valencia, comms consultant Joanna Klonsky, Illinois Department of Labor legislative director Anna Koeppel, former congressional candidate Sameena Mustafa, and game developer Max Temkin.
Monday: Former first lady Michelle Obama, Cook County Judge Abbey Romanek, Mason County Dems Chair Jay Briney, comms consultant Kelley Quinn, and Edelman VP Katherine Wiet.