Campaign contribution limits are off in race for Chicago mayor – Chicago Tribune newstrendslive

Paul Vallas lent $100,100 to his mayoral campaign fund Thursday, a move that lifts restrictions on how much money both he and opponent Brandon Johnson can receive from campaign contributors.

The move busting the contributions caps by the former Chicago Public Schools CEO clears the way for business interests and wealthy donors to write him big checks.

It also opens the door for Johnson, a Cook County commissioner, to benefit from significant union support, most notably the Chicago Teachers Union. Still, it might be unlikely Johnson will raise as much campaign cash as Vallas, who has raised more than $5 million since entering the mayoral race last summer.

State law limits the amount of money donors can give to candidates for public office with some exceptions, including races where at least one candidate is “self-funding” or giving their campaign more than $100,000. So Vallas’ loan Thursday was designed specifically to lift those restrictions.

Contributions to both Vallas and Johnson drew scrutiny in the first round of the mayoral race where the two were the biggest vote-getters in a field of nine candidates, including Mayor Lori Lightfoot. Vallas and Johnson are now facing off in the runoff on April 4.

Vallas reported receiving large sums of money from conservative contributors and prominent Republicans.

Vallas’ largest contributor was golf course developer Michael Keiser, who has given him $700,000. Keiser previously contributed $11,200 to former President Donald Trump, a Republican. Vallas has taken money from John Canning, a Chicago private equity executive who has given to many politicians locally but also national Republicans, and Noel Moore, who has given to Trump and Texas Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.

Vallas also took $25,000 from Ron Gidwitz, Trump’s 2016 Illinois finance chairman, who was finance co-chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee and ran as a Republican for governor in 2006.

Asked why Republicans donated to his campaign, Vallas previously said, “Because the city’s in trouble (and) crime is out of control.”

“I think I’m getting the support from the business community because the business community feels that I’m the one best equipped to deal with those issues,” Vallas said.

He also pointed out some of his donors, such as Canning, have also given to Democrats, including Lightfoot. Major donor to Republican causes Craig Duchossois, for instance, has given $10,000 to Vallas and was a major supporter of Richard Irvin for governor. Lightfoot took $100,000 from Duchossois in 2019.

Johnson, who in addition to being a Cook County commissioner is an organizer for CTU, received nearly $1 million from the teachers union in his bid to make the runoff. The powerful teachers union even borrowed dues money against future contributions to its political fund to make sure Johnson had the resources he needed for TV commercials and get-out-the-vote efforts.

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