It was always clear that Rahm Emanuel was raising enormous sums of cash to finance his bid for Chicago mayor. With the final totals in from the Illinois Board of Elections, it's now public just how enormous those sums were.
The mayor-elect raised a total of $14.5 million for his bid to preside over the nation's third-largest city, according to filings with the State Board of Elections. That total dwarfed the next-best fundraiser, former chief of staff to mayor Richard M. Daley Gery Chico, who raised just over $4 million for his bid.
Of Emanuel's $14.5 million, the vast majority -- around $11.8 million -- came between his deciding to run in October 2010 and December 31 of that year. Only about $2.6 million came in the final seven weeks of the campaign, between January 1 and the February 22 election.
It might seem odd that a candidate would raise significantly less in the run-up to the election than he did several months prior. The explanation: SB 1466, a measure signed into law in December of 2009, which took effect on January 1, 2011. That law contained sweeping campaign-finance reforms, including a limit of $5,000 on individual donations to campaigns. Before the law took effect, Illinois had no campaign contribution limits whatsoever.
Much of Emanuel's fundraising came in $50,000 and $100,000 chunks in the months before the law took effect, with a flurry of cash coming in just before New Year's.
Another detail revealed by the newly released quarterly reports was the staggering amount of money Emanuel spent fighting his residency battle in the Illinois courts. Objectors argued that by living in Washington, DC serving as President Obama's Chief of Staff, Emanuel had forfeited his legal residency in Chicago, and therefore was ineligible to run for mayor.
Emanuel spent roughly $800,000 on his legal team, ABC reports, including such notorious Chicago election lawyers as Michael Kasper and Kevin and Michael Forde. He ultimately won his case in a unanimous decision of the state Supreme Court.
One other notable tidbit from the disclosures, as pointed out by the Chicago Tribune: Rahm spent almost $7,000 of campaign cash at Eli's, purchasing cheesecakes as thank-yous to supporters.
The mayor-elect's inauguration, a lavish fundraising affair in itself, will be held in May.