Dozens of people buzzed about the large Lincoln Park home, invited by one of Chicago’s wealthy philanthropists and waiting for a guest of honor who was fashionably late for his own party.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel eventually glided through the door that April evening, smiling, shaking hands and expressing gratitude for the crowd drawn by the opportunity to have a few minutes of face time and to write a check to his rapidly ballooning political fund.
Two months earlier and more than 2,000 miles away, Emanuel was the main attraction at another exclusive gathering of donors at the Beverly Hills compound of a Hollywood entertainment mogul, where the mayor shared his accomplishments and vision for Chicago.
Similar scenes have played out many times in recent months, at homes, restaurants and businesses, ever since Emanuel and a cadre of his closest political supporters quietly flipped the switch on his fundraising operation in December, two years out from his 2015 run for a second term.
A relentless stream of contributions is flowing into the Chicago for Rahm Emanuel fund — hundreds of $5,000 donations from individuals, dozens of $10,000 donations from companies, 10 donations from labor unions of roughly $50,000 apiece. Nearly 770 donations and $3.2 million so far, based on public records that will be updated this week with a quarterly report to the state.
Emanuel will not talk about his fundraising. But Democratic consultants and business leaders tell similar stories about the advice spreading around Chicago that now is the time to donate and be noticed, rather than risk going unnoticed in the avalanche of contributions closer to the election. More…