Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot Accused Of Pay-To-Play For Trying To Give Public Land To Sports Team

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Mary Rooke Commentary and Analysis Writer
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Democratic Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is facing an ethics complaint over funds she received for her re-election campaign, according to a report.

An ethics complaint filed Wednesday in Chicago by Democratic Chicago Alderman Raymond Lopez alleges that Lightfoot received a first-time donation of tens of thousands of dollars to her mayoral re-election campaign from Chicago Fire Football Club owner Joe Mansueto as part of a pay-for-play scheme, according to WTTW News.

Less than two months after Lightfoot supported a proposal that gave around 26 acres of public land from the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) to his football club to build a training facility, Mansueto allegedly donated $25,000 to the Chicago mayor, ProPublica reported.

Although still waiting for federal approval, if the deal is successful, Mansueto will pay around $40 million to lease the land from the CHA for at least 40 years, according to ProPublica. (RELATED: Famous Crooks Who Are Democrat Megadonors)

Lopez announced on Twitter Wednesday that an official request to review the potential ethics violation had been sent to Chicago Inspector General Deborah Witzburg and the Executive Director of the Chicago Board of Ethics, Steve Berlin.

“I believe this represents a gross & familiar abuse of power and, at minimum, a potential violation of the City of Chicago’s Governmental Ethics Ordinance,” Lopez said.

The proposal, substitute ordinance SO2022-1838, was introduced by the mayor’s administration on Jun. 22 after Chicago’s zoning committee initially rejected the bid. With Lightfoot’s support, it passed by a 37-11 vote by the full Chicago City Council on Sept. 21, according to the letter.

“I believe that the mayor’s diminished moral license and attempt to cling to power clouds her judgment on these and other similar matters,” said Lopez.

Due to Chicago’s ethics ordinances, Lightfoot is facing potential penalties of $20,000 per violation or three times the amount of the donation in question, reported WTTW. The CHA and the Lightfoot administration said the proposal was justified because of the financial benefits the low-income area needs to fix aging community properties, reported WTTW.

Mansueto told the outlet that the deal is another part of his commitment “to making a significant investment on the historically underfunded West Side” area of Chicago and praised Lightfoot for sharing his vision that acts “as a way to lift up the city as a whole.”