Garcia’s crypto conundrum

Garcia’s crypto conundrum

With help from Olivia Olander

Good Wednesday morning, Illinois. It’s France v. Morocco today in the World Cup semi-final, and we’re all for splitting your screens to watch.

Programming note: Playbook wraps up Friday before taking some down time until Jan. 3. So get your tips in quick.

Congressman Jesus “Chuy” Garcia is being attacked as a machine-style politician for taking a $200,000 political donation from crypto-king Sam Bankman-Fried, who was charged Tuesday with multiple counts of fraud, money laundering and campaign finance violations.

Garcia isn’t the only one: Other politicos also accepted donations from Bankman-Fried, but Garcia did so when he didn’t even have an opponent in his congressional race. And his campaign accepted the cash knowing that Garcia sits on the House Financial Services Committee, which regulates the crypto industry.

Big stakes: Garcia isn’t talking about the big donation, but it’s an issue that’s not going away and threatens his mayoral ambitions, which are soaring on a recent poll showing him leading Mayor Lori Lightfoot and everyone else looking to run City Hall.

Sounds familiar: It was just four years ago, after all, that mayoral candidate Toni Preckwinkle’s campaign was rocked by revelations that she had taken just $10,000 campaign donation from Ald. Ed Burke, who was charged with alleged extortion. That donation was made at a fundraiser held a year before the mayoral campaign of 2019.

The donation to Garcia is in real time, which means this will be an ongoing theme in the mayor’s race.

State Reps. Kam Buckner and Kelly Cassidy came out swinging on the issue Tuesday. They, of course, have their own political motivations: Buckner is challenging Garcia for mayor, and Cassidy supports Lightfoot’s reelection.

So many questions: “How does a self-proclaimed ‘reformer’ accept special interest support from a crypto billionaire whose industry’s future rests on members of Congress?” Buckner said in a statement.

And Cassidy asks: “What were Bankman-Fried’s motives for spending so much on Rep. Garcia’s reelection, and what did Garcia promise in return?” The state lawmaker said Garcia’s exchange with Bankman-Fried harkens back to “the old way” of doing political business in Chicago “and we can’t afford that in City Hall.”

Garcia’s team pushed back, calling the comments "desperate attacks from floundering campaigns,” according to a report by Crain’s Greg Hinz.

He’s otherwise laying low. Garcia didn’t show up at a mayoral debate on Tuesday. And he only zoomed in to the House Financial Services meeting, which was supposed to have seen Bankman-Fried testify. (His arrest put an end to that.)


MORE ON FTX FOUNDER: POLITICO’s Declan Harty and Sam Sutton say the “explosive set of allegations” against Bankman-Fried could shake up Washington policy battles about cryptocurrency regulations.

ILLINOIS ON THE SCENE: President Joe Biden signed the Respect for Marriage Act into law Tuesday during a chilly ceremony on the White House South Lawn.

Biden’s signature “cemented his legacy as a champion of LGBTQ rights,” write POLITICO’s Myah Ward and Eun Kyung Kim.

On hand for the signing were thousands of advocates and congressional leaders. Spotted in the crowd from Illinois were state Rep. Kelly Cassidy, Cook County Commissioner Kevin Morrison, Equality Illinois CEO Brian Johnson, Equality Illinois legislative director Mike Ziri, Equality Illinois comms director Myles Brady-Davis, former MWRD political candidate Precious Brady-Davis, Equality Illinois Board Chair Justin DeJong and businessman Joel Muilenburg.

If you’re Congressman Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, we’d like to talk about that political donation from the crypto king. Email [email protected].

At the National Hellenic Museum at 10 a.m. for a ribbon cutting to mark the completion of the Jane Byrne Interchange mega-project. It’s finally ready to debut with ’50 percent reduction in delays,’ reports Daily Herald’s Marni Pyke

At City Hall at 10 a.m. to preside over the City Council.

With the governor heralding the Jane Byrne Interchange mega-project.

Have a news tip, suggestion, birthday, anniversary, new job, or any other nugget for Playbook? I’d like to hear from you: [email protected]

As Stellantis mulls Belvidere’s future, Pritzker moves to sweeten new EV incentives: Legislation “expected to be put to a vote in the General Assembly’s January lame-duck session,” would give Gov. JB Pritzker a huge “deal-closing fund” that other governors have. “Insiders say the lack of such a fund recently cost the state a battery plant which, instead, was won by Michigan,” reports Crain’s Greg Hinz.

Medicare Advantage health plans dodged auditors, overcharged taxpayers millions, via Kaiser Health News

Chicago mayoral hopefuls agree solving crime is the answer — no matter what the question: In a debate Tuesday, candidates often “veered back to crime and public safety when answering questions on the CTA, businesses leaving the city and other matters at the forum, which was held on the Northwest Side,” by Sun-Times’ Emmanuel Camarillo.

— NEUTRAL GROUND: The Chicago Federation of Labor is out with endorsements for the Chicago municipal elections. And, drum roll, it’s staying neutral in the mayor’s race. Endorsements here

— Brandon Johnson, who’s running for mayor of Chicago, has been endorsed by the ONE People’s Campaign.

Proco Joe Moreno should be kicked off 1st Ward ballot, objectors argue in complaint, by Block Club’s Mina Bloom and Quinn Myers

Lake Forest mayoral race taking shape:  Former Ald. Prue Beidler is planning to challenge former Ald. Stanford “Randy” Tack, the endorsed candidate of the Lake Forest Caucus Committee, reports Pioneer Press’ Daniel I. Dorfman.

Chicago casino set for final City Council vote as aldermen support zoning: “Approval of the $1.74 billion Bally’s casino complex in River West would be a political boon for Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who has made opening a casino in Chicago a goal of her tenure in office. If the full City Council approves the plan Wednesday, the last bureaucratic step for the casino would be to secure approval from the Illinois Gaming Board,” by Tribune’s Alice Yin.

CPS spent $308M on school technology since 2020. Now what?Chicago Public Schools lacks a cohesive plan for using computers in the classroom or a reliable way to track them, WBEZ and Chalkbeat found,” by Chalkbeat’s Mila Koumpilova and WBEZ’s Sarah Karp

Ald. Sigcho-Lopez calls for hearings on CPD officer suspended over ties to the Proud Boys, by Sun-Times’ Tom Schuba

Lincoln Park’s Francis W. Parker School reopens after threat following viral Project Veritas video, by Block Club’s Mack Liederman

OSHA opens investigation into fatal trench collapse in Buffalo Grove, by Daily Herald’s Steve Zalusky

Will County Post Office to be renamed in honor of Larry Walsh Sr., via The Times Weekly

Michigan man charged with threatening to shoot Mayor Lori Lightfoot in message sent to official website, via WTTW’s Matt Masterson

Jury awards CPD whistleblower nearly $1M, writes Sun-Times’ Andy Grimm

Still little movement in R. Kelly’s Cook County cases, but singer could be in attendance at arguments next month, by Tribune’s Megan Crepeau and Jason Meisner

RELATED:R. Kelly message from jail: ‘Leave my music alone!!!’ writes Sun-Times’ Jon Seidel

Byrne Interchange mega-project finally ready to debut with ’50 percent reduction in delays,’ by Daily Herald’s Marni Pyke

United to add 2,600 jobs in Chicago as part of plan to replace its aging fleet, by Tribune’s Robert Channick

Longtime CTA union president Keith Hill wins third term amid safety concerns, election drama, by Block Club’s Mack Liederman

We asked how politics might change in a hundred years, and a few of you got a little nutty:

Michael R. Lieber: “With the widening gulf between rich and poor, the U.S. will be increasingly balkanized, with maybe seven or eight ‘blue’ states and the rest ‘red,’ and the government and society struggling to function. (Not exactly a happy diagnosis!)”

Milt McDougald: “I expect it will be the same thing it is now, only different.”

Ed Mazur: “All will be labeled at birth, either D, R or I and cannot change unless they undergo a brain transplant at a mobile or virtual polling place.”

Joseph Monack: “Technological advancements will greatly reduce scarcity of basic needs and political reforms like ranked choice voting will be more widely implemented to ensure the victory of consensus candidates, so politics in general will become less theatrical and divisive.”

What’s the craftiest thing you’ve made for the holidays? Email [email protected]

Ken Griffin sues IRS for failing to protect his financial data: “The Citadel founder is seeking financial damages over a data breach that resulted in ProPublica’s publication of information on a number of the wealthiest people in the U.S. He accused the IRS of ‘willful and intentional failure to establish appropriate administrative, technical, and/or physical safeguards,’” via Bloomberg Tax.

The NBA has renamed its MVP trophy after Michael Jordan, via CNN

Illinois House GOP Minority-elect Tony McCombie and state Rep. Ryan Spain had long ago planned a joint fundraiser for Tuesday at Hub 51 in Chicago. So McCombie’s elevation to caucus leader goosed the event. Spotted: Outgoing Illinois House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, Senate GOP Leader Dan McConchie, GOP state Reps. Dan Ugaste, Jackie Haas and Norine Hammond were on hand. So was ex-state GOP Rep. turned lobbyist Ed Sullivan, Illinois Manufacturers Association President Mark Denzler, Illinois Retail Merchants Association President Rob Karr, Democratic lobbyists Dan Shomon, Michael Cassidy and The Clover Group’s VittorioGomez.

— OP-ED: Duckworth calls on Biden to make site of the 1908 Springfield Race Riots a national monument, via State Journal-Register

— Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17) gave her final speech on the House floor Tuesday, reflecting on her decade serving northwest and central Illinois in Congress and thanking her staff “who do the real work.” Bustos knows something about work. She embedded herself in 120 different jobs across her district for her Cheri on Shifts program.

— Congressman Sean Casten (IL-06) and Congresswoman Grace Meng (NY-06) introduced the Period PROUD (Providing Resources to Our Underserved and Disadvantaged) Act of 2022 to expand accessibility to menstrual products for those with limited access.

Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi supports bipartisan bill to ban TikTok, by Crain’s Mark Walsh

— DEEP DIVE: China dominates the rare earths market. This U.S. mine is trying to change that, by POLITICO’s Lara Seligman. Also check out this story on 4 startling ways China is challenging the U.S., by POLITICO’s Paul McLeary.

Senate Dems prepare to join the investigative fray, by POLITICO’s Jordain Carney

Deal clinched on government funding framework, by POLITICO’s Caitlin Emma and Marianne LeVine

— Jason Rosensweig has been named director of legislative affairs and policy for the Illinois Department of Human Rights. He has been director of Chicago for the Shalom Hartman Institute.

Thursday at 3 p.m.: Summit Mayor Sergio Rodriguez and other local leaders headline an event for NAMI Metro Suburban and BEDS Plus Care, which are working to expand bilingual mental and physical health care services in the communities of Summit, Berwyn, Justice and Cicero. The event will take place at NAMI Metro Suburban’s new Individual Placement and Support facility.

TUESDAY’s ANSWER: Congrats to Mary Kay Minaghan for correctly answering that in 1892, the Masonic Temple surpassed the New York World Building, breaking its two-year reign as the tallest skyscraper, only to be surpassed itself two years later by another New York building.

TODAY’s QUESTION: Who’s the pianist and composer who performed 65 concerts in Chicago between 1892 and 1939? Email [email protected]

Resolute public affairs COO David Smolensky, Gun Violence Prevention PAC founder Tom Vanden Berk, former mayoral candidate John Kozlar, film director Matthew Cherry and University of Chicago student Fernando Elizondo Junco.



December 14, 2022 at 07:40AM

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