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Abe Scarr,
Illinois PIRG Education Fund

Final Numbers Show Big Money Dominated Chicago Mayoral Elections

Reforms Endorsed By Chicago Voters Would Empower Small Donors
For Immediate Release

Ninety-six percent of all money raised by the Rahm Emanuel and Chuy Garcia mayoral campaigns came from donors giving $1,000 or more, according to Illinois PIRG Education Fund analysis of fundraising reports, the latest of which were released late Wednesday. Only 2% came from donors giving less than $150. Chicagoans had the opportunity in February to vote on whether or not the city should pursue campaign finance reforms to empower small donors, and they overwhelming supported it, with 79% of voting yes.

"The final mayoral fundraising totals make clear that the voices of small donors were drowned out by the spending of large donors," said Abe Scarr, Director of Illinois PIRG Education Fund. "Decision makers at every level of government should pursue reforms to empower small donors and small donor backed candidates in our elections."

The Emanuel campaign raised 98% of its campaign funds from donors giving a $1,000 or more, and only 0.6% from donors giving less than $150. The Garcia campaign raised 83% of its campaign funds from donors giving a $1,000 or more, and 10% from donors giving less than $150.
 
Overall, 49% of donors gave contributions of under $150, yet their contributions amounted to 2% of all money given to the two campaigns. Sixty-one percent of contributions to the Emanuel campaign came from donors giving $1,000 or more, while 23% came from donors giving under $150.  Eight percent of contributions to the Garcia campaign came from donors giving $1,000 or more, while 69% came from donors giving under $150. 
 

New York City has adopted a small donor matching program that is a model for national legislation, including a bill sponsored by Senator Durbin, and numerous local reform efforts across the country. In the last New York City Council race, 61% of participating candidates’ funds came from small donors, when the match is factored in.  In the last election, all but one winning New York City Council candidate participated in the program.

Illinois PIRG Education Fund will be releasing a report later in the summer with fuller analysis of big money in the Mayoral and Aldermanic elections.

These numbers represent "individual contributions" and "transfers in" to candidate committees from February 23rd 2011 through April 7th 2015. Small contributions are not itemized so may begin in January 2011 and extend through the end of June 2015.

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