Crusader Staff Report
Alderman Leslie Hairston (5th Ward) has given a $20,000 campaign donation she received from Mayor Rahm Emanuel to several community organizations, according to a story in this week’s Chicago Defender.
The newspaper reported that Hairston gave $4,000 to ABJ Community Services, the South Shore Drill Team, Hyde Park Art Center and C.H.A.M.P.S Male Mentoring program.
Hairston did not notify the Crusader of her plans for the campaign donation. She did not respond to an email and a request for comment through her website by Crusader press time Wednesday.
(Note: On Wednesday, January 23, Hairston’s publicist emailed the Crusader, saying “the website is for constituent requests and not for reporters to request interviews. Interview requests should still go through her office and/or campaign—depending on the nature of the inquiry. Given this article was about a campaign contribution, no one from the aldermanic office could’ve responded to you—as it’s political.”
Hairston is among 17 incumbents seeking re-election on February 26. Three challengers seek to unseat her, including activist William Calloway, who blasted her for accepting the campaign donation from the mayor.
Last November, the Crusader reported that Hairston and Alderman Anthony Beale (9th Ward) each accepted a $20,000 campaign donation from Mayor Emanuel one month after he gave out the checks to his allies during a breakfast at a restaurant across from City Hall.
Among the other Black aldermen who received $20,000 in donations from Emanuel were Carrie Austin (34th), Emma Mitts (37th), Howard Brookins, Jr. (21st), Roderick Sawyer (6th), and Walter Burnett, Jr. (27th). Sawyer gave his $20,000 donation to community organizations and Austin said she would use the money to fund holiday events and her re-election campaign.
Beale last November said he would use the donation to “keep up the voter momentum and increased participation that was shown in Chicago and across Illinois in November’s election.”
In the Defender story Hairston said she does not consider herself an ally of the mayor and was “surprised” by the contribution from the mayor, who on the first day of Officer Jason Van Dyke’s trial last September announced that he will not seek a third term in office. A month later, Van Dyke was convicted of second degree-murder for shooting teenager Laquan McDonald 16 times in 2014. The mayor was accused of suppressing a video of the shooting while he campaigned in the Black community to get re-elected. Black aldermen have been criticized for being silent on the case and some have remained strong allies of the mayor throughout the rest of his term.
In October, the Crusader reported that eight Black aldermen took thousands of dollars from the mayor weeks before he was re-elected, and the City Council approved a $5 million settlement to the estate of the murdered teenager, Laquan McDonald.
All of the Black aldermen approved the $5 million settlement at the City Council meeting on April 15, 2015. Beale was among six Black aldermen on the Chicago Finance Committee and the City Council, who approved the amount twice.
Nearly all of the aldermen are seeking re-election in the city’s elections on February 26.