Chicago mayoral forum focuses on fundraising

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A forum of the candidates in the Chicago mayor's race Friday featured a lot of finger pointing over fundraising.

Toni Preckwinkle, one of the leading candidates, found herself the prime target. Much of the criticism involved the now-controversial fundraiser held for Preckwinkle by Alderman Ed Burke, who's under federal investigation, and $1.5 million in donations from the SEIU State Council.

The final question during the Union League Club of Chicago's forum, which was about the need for campaign finance reform, sent the barbs flying after Toni Preckwinkle positioned herself like this:

"My motto has always been to try to raise funds as broadly as possible from as many different sectors, from as many different constituencies as possible, so you minimize your obligations to any particular part of the electorate or your constituency," Preckwinkle said.

Candidate Garry McCarthy said he didn't "know how to follow that."

"Maybe we shouldn't take millions of dollars from special interests, we shouldn't take it from unions, we shouldn't take if from special interests because that breeds corruption," he said.

"We have people on this stage that have accepted millions and hundreds of thousands of dollars from interest groups, millions and hundreds of thousands of dollars. So if you really want to clean this up, we either put a limit on the amount of the largest contribution you can accept, or we go to public finance of campaigns," said Gery Chico.

"The Political machine and government are like Siamese twins," said Paul Vallas. "They are joined at, they share the same organs and that organ is money."

Afterwards Preckwinkle said the $116,000 she received from a Burke-hosted fundraiser has been returned, but she refused to answer further questions about her fundraising, walking away from reporters.

"Toni Preckwinkle refuses to give account to the people of the city what her corrupt relationship was with Ed Burke," said Lori Lightfoot. "She won't answer the question, she smiles and heads for the door."

Preckwinkle was also facing continued scrutiny Friday about the hiring of Burke's son to a six-figure salary. She has admitted she talked to Alderman Ed Burke about it, but she claims she had no idea about the sexual harassment allegations against Burke Junior while he worked for the sheriff's department. He has since resigned.
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