Cook County Clerk David Orr and Chicago aldermen are demanding that Mayor Rahm Emanuel turn over over emails that he and his administration exchanged with one of his top political donors, Grosvenor CEO Michael Sacks.
Emanuel's campaign and affiliated political committees have received $1.6 million in donations from Sacks and his wife, who have reportedly given the mayor other gifts. Sacks was appointed as vice chairman of World Business Chicago, a public-private agency, by Emanuel. The mayor also appointed Sacks to his Economic Council.
The elected officials, including Chicago Alds. Rick Munoz (22nd) and Scott Waguespack (32nd), held a City Hall press conference this afternoon to formally request the public documents from the Emanuel administration.
The press conference comes in response to the International Business Times' report on Thursday stating that its open records request for over 1,500 such emails was denied by the Emanuel administration.
"It's unprecedented to give a private citizen like Michael Sacks a role in determining the policy decisions of Chicago's most senior elected official," Munoz said in a new release issued after the press conference. "We have a right to see this correspondence, which by law is a matter of public record, because it may cast light on government operations that this administration has sought to conceal from the people."
Sacks also helped with Emanuel's changes to the parking meter deal.
"Michael Sacks holds no elected office, and has been given no formal public powers by either the people or their representatives, yet he has been allowed to renegotiate the worst privatization deal in the city's history -- and make it worse for our residents," added Waguespack. "That alone makes it imperative that the public be able to see these emails."
A Chicago Public School teacher who delivered a letter earlier today to the mayor's office requesting that the documents be released joined Orr and the aldermen at the press conference.
"Open government is an essential component of our democracy," Orr said. "By refusing to make these emails public, Mayor Emanuel is undermining two of the most essential components of democratic rule -- transparency and public accountability. We do not live in a fiefdom, and Mayor Emanuel does not have the imperial power to deny the public access to public records."