Final fundraising numbers from the 2015 Chicago mayoral election were released on Wednesday, and an analysis of the totals shows Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his top challenger Jesus "Chuy" Garcia got nearly all of their financial support from large donors giving at least $1,000.
The Illinois PIRG Education Fund's analysis showed that 96 percent of all the money raised by Emanuel and Garcia combined for their mayoral campaigns came from big donors. On the flip side, contributions of less than $150 represented only 2 percent of the total money donated to Emanuel and Garcia.
Emanuel raised just 0.6 percent of his campaign funds from small donors and 98 percent from donors giving more than $1,000.
For Garcia, he raised 10 percent of his campaign funds from small donors and 83 percent from large donors.
Additional info from the analysis: "Overall, 49 percent of donors gave contributions of under $150, yet their contributions amounted to 2 percent 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 percent came from donors giving under $150. Eight percent of contributions to the Garcia campaign came from donors giving $1,000 or more, while 69 percent came from donors giving under $150."
The findings highlight the need for small donor campaign finance reform, Illinois PIRG Education Fund leaders say.
In the February 24 election, Chicago voters overwhelmingly backed a referendum question asking their opinion on the idea of implementing a small donor campaign finance matching program.
"The final mayoral fundraising totals make clear that the voices of small donors were drowned out by the spending of large donors," said Illinois PIRG Education Fund Director Abe Scarr. "Decision makers at every level of government should pursue reforms to empower small donors and small donor backed candidates in our elections."
The Illinois PIRG Education Fund examined "individual contributions" and "transfers in" to candidate committees from February 23, 2011 through April 7, 2015.