One of the great scams of modern political life is the charitable contributions of tax-exempt foundations associated with politicians. A perfect illustration is one charity associated with former Chicago Mayor Daley which has received some attention.
The charity, After School Matters, set up by Maggie Daley (former Chicago Mayor Daley’s wife and sister-in-law of White House Chief of Staff William Daley) has received more than $54 million from the financially troubled city. The Chicago Tribune explains that
“days before Emanuel took office, the Daley administration awarded the nonprofit a one-year, nearly $6.5 million contract to oversee summer jobs efforts and after-school programs.
The group is housed in city offices near the Cultural Center, where it pays no rent and uses city computers and phones."
The Tribune article provides some rather unusual facts. Three full time city of Chicago workers labor full time for the private charity. It also benefits from corporate contributions, as The Chicago Sun-Times’ ace investigative reporter Tim Novak explains:
"After School Matters - founded and run by Maggie Daley - raised more money in a single year than 97 percent of the 12,757 charities in Illinois filing reports with the IRS"
How this corporate support “materialized” is now coming into question. Long time Chicago media critic Steve Rhodes points out that this appears to be a shakedown racket of those who do business with the city of Chicago.
In 2008, After School Matters became prominent news because of its donor list. Prominent corporations like J.P Morgan Chase and Motorola gave significant contributions to Daley’s charity, and all received City of Chicago contracts.
This isn’t just a story about a local charity with conflicts of interest. Federal taxpayers are giving federal stimulus dollars to the Daley charity. Even Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the Chicago Sun-Times reports, admits “the city should not be dictating which charities recipients of city subsidies should donate to.”
Former Mayor Daley is upset that anyone would think that his wife’s charity isn’t fully dedicated to helping children. The Chicago Sun-Times reports:
Former Mayor Richard M. Daley on Monday denounced as “disgraceful” and a “personal insult to my wife” an internal audit concluding that recipients of city subsidies were told to donate to Maggie Daley’s After School Matters program.
The former mayor insisted that no arms were ever twisted to produce donations to the charity that his wife founded to occupy and educate Chicago teenagers.
Daley’s response is textbook Chicago media spin. When confronted with facts, claim outrage and avoid the specifics.