CHICAGO – Records show that over the past three years, Rep. Christian Mitchell (26th District) has accepted $47,000 from an anti-pension SuperPAC. These political contributions were funded by a small group of Chicago’s wealthiest families, several of whom are prominent Republican donors. The South Side Democrat faces community leader and education activist Jhatayn “Jay” Travis in a heated March 18 primary race.
“I find it absolutely shocking that one of our elected officials would allow himself to be influenced by special-interest money from big business as he aligns himself with progressives,” said Karen Lewis, president of the Chicago Teachers Union. “That Christian Mitchell would accept nearly $50,000 in donations from the far right, and then break his promise to Chicagoans to protect their retirements is not just disappointing, but heartbreaking.”
In 2012, the We Mean Business PAC raised over $371,600 from a small group of Chicago-based millionaire businessmen, including Lester Crown and Republican mega-donor Craig Duchossois, for the purpose of pushing pension cuts in Springfield. During that year, the group donated over $185,000 to state legislative candidates, all of which went to Republican candidates with the exceptions of Rep. Elaine Nekritz and Rep. Mitchell, the two Democratic architects of the pension cuts.
Curiously, Mitchell had stated in early 2012 that he would oppose legislation that would cut teachers’ and other public servants’ pensions. Whether his connection to the We Mean Business PAC had any impact on his legislative decision-making has yet to be established.
On the campaign trail in 2012, Mitchell was on the record as opposing a bill to reduce pensions for public employees. “Both (Johnson and Christian Mitchell) oppose a bill to reduce pensions for public employees. Mitchell rejects it because it was developed without broad input.” [Chicago Sun-Times, February 28, 2012]
In 2012-2014, Christian Mitchell received $47,000 from the We Mean Business PAC. [Illinoissunshine.org]
In 2012, Christian Mitchell received $20,000 from the We Mean Business PAC, which is closely aligned with Republican state legislative candidates and anti-pension special interests:
The recently minted business PAC dominated by Chicago’s Crown family – “We Mean Business” – is backing right wing GOP state representative candidate David McSweeney (R-Barrington) over independent Dee Beaubien (I-Barrington) for the seat held by late husband, Republican Mark Beaubien.
We Mean Business, which was created on December 19, 2011 to back Illinois pension reform, dropped $10,000 into McSweeney’s campaign on September 5 following another $10,000 contribution on June 18.
The PAC had unsuccessfully backed McSweeney’s opponent, appointed State Rep. Kent Gaffney (R-Barrington), a moderate Republican, like Beaubien and her late husband, in the March primary.
“Although everyone has officially fallen in line to endorse McSweeney, there are plenty in the GOP, including lawmakers, who would like to see Dee take him out, given how he smeared Kent and House staff in the primary,” said one Republican source.
Gaffney is a former House GOP staffer.
In its first six months, We Mean Business has raised $371,600 from a small group of wealthy Chicago-area donors. The Crown family and its top employees have contributed $150,000. Another leading Chicago philanthropic family, the Pritzkers, have donated $30,000, of which $20,000 came liberal Democratic activists J.B. Pritzker and his wife, M.K. Pritzker.
“The group, which has received no coverage that I’m aware of except for a brief mention in Capitol Fax, potentially is a game-changer,” wrote Crain’s Chicago political columnist Greg Hinz in January.
The group has so far donated $185,000 to a handful of state legislative candidates. All but $30,000 of that amount has gone to Republicans. The Democratic exceptions are Suburban State Rep. Elaine Nekritz who has snagged $10,000 and Chicago state representative candidate Cristian Mitchell who has received $20,000. Nekritz is the public face of pension reform for House Democrats.
By now backing the ultra-right McSweeney, who the group spurned previously, We Mean Business has now opted for Tea Party ideology over moderation, independence.” [Chicago Examiner, September 11, 2012]
Lester Crown donated $10,000 to the We Mean Business PAC. “Lester Crown and family, whose many business interests have included stakes in General Dynamics, the Empire State Building, the New York Yankees and the Chicago Bulls, gave $31,000, including $10,000 to the We Mean Business PAC aimed at promoting public pension reform in Illinois and $5,000 to the campaign of Illinois House Republican Leader Tom Cross of Oswego.” [Chicago Daily Herald, April 30, 2012]
Lester Crown also gave $6,000 to Christian Mitchell’s campaign in 2012. [Christian Mitchell Campaign Finance, Cycle: 2012, All Data Provided by FollowTheMoney.org]
We Mean Business PAC Financed by Craig Duchossois and Lester Crown. “The We Mean Business PAC is being financed by a number of well-known Chicago-area businessmen, including Craig Duchossois, Lester Crown and J.B. Pritzker.” [Times-Courier, January 18, 2012]
Craig Duchossois has donated $30,400 to the Republican National Committee, $30,400 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee and $25,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee. [Federal Election Commission]
We Mean Business PAC was formed to push major “pension reforms.” “And then there’s the brand new We Mean Business PAC, which sources say was started at the behest of Ty Fahner, whose Civic Committee is pushing major pension reforms. The PAC raised almost $143,000 on Dec. 29 alone.” [Illinois Times, January 26, 2102]