Mayoral candidate Toni Preckwinkle received a $500,000 campaign donation from SEIU Illinois State Council, boosting her campaign war chest that’s the second highest among her opponents.
The large donation comes as Preckwinkle continues to defend her reputation amid a corruption scandal involving longtime alderman Ed Burke.
The campaign donation brings the total amount Preckwinkle raised to over $2.7 million. She trails opponent William “Bill” Daley, who has raised nearly $3.6 million for his mayoral campaign. Opponents Gery Chico, Susana Mendoza, Lori Lightfoot, Willie Wilson, Paul Vallas, Amara Enyia and Dorothy Brown round out the top 10.
Preckwinkle’s latest contribution from SEIU came a month after the union donation of $1 million to her mayoral campaign. That campaign donation is Preckwinkle’s largest contribution for 2018.
In the past several weeks, Preckwinkle has been battling to protect her image after she was dragged into a corruption scandal involving Alderman Burke, who was charged with attempted extortion by federal prosecutors.
Burke allegedly extorted a Burger King franchise owner to get business to his law firm as the business owner was seeking city permits to remodel one of his fast food restaurants. The business owner was also persuaded to donate $10,000 to Preckwinkle. The donation was never reported to the Illinois State Board of Elections.
Preckwinkle said the donation was rejected because it exceeded the legal limit. On Thursday, January 3, she filed an amended campaign finance report that shows the donation. After negative publicity grew, on January 6, Preckwinkle announced that she will return $116,000 that she raised at Burke’s house in January 2018. She was initially reluctant to return the money when the scandal broke.
In news reports, Preckwinkle said she was not aware of Burke’s activities and was “appalled” by them.
Preckwinkle has removed Burke as chair of the Cook County Democratic Party’s judicial staffing committee. On Sunday, January 6, Preckwinkle demanded that Alderman Burke resign from the City Council and as Democratic committeeman of the 14th Ward. Two days earlier, Burke resigned as chair of the Chicago Finance Committee.
Preckwinkle is among several mayoral candidates who have ties to Burke, who was considered a mentor to Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza. Bill Daley has had a political relationship with Burke for years. Burke has endorsed Gery Chico for mayor. Since 2005, Chico has a total of donated $52,000 to Burke and his wife, Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke.