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City’s ban on gifts includes cheap ‘Hamilton’ tickets, watchdog says

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Bad news for Chicago aldermen already kvetching about getting their face-value Cubs World Series tickets taken away because of a recent ethics ruling: You can scratch relatively cheap “Hamilton” seats off the list too.

City Inspector General Joseph Ferguson said the city ban on gifts worth more than $50 that put the kibosh on the Cubs’ offer to aldermen also applies to other tickets, including the hit Broadway musical that has now set up shop in Chicago.

The kibosh came during a Ferguson interview with WLS 890-AM reporter Bill Cameron for the “Connected to Chicago” program that aired Sunday.

“The ban is that no city employee or official may accept a gift — if it’s cash it’s a complete ban, if it’s a gift it can’t have more than $50 in value from any one source,” Ferguson said. “And so here, the Cubs were making the offer of the tickets at face value. As we all know, on the secondary market, they’re worth a heck of a lot more.”

With "Hamilton" performances selling out for months here and tickets fetching way above face value on the secondary market, Ferguson confirmed those tickets would presumably fall within the parameters of the ban as well. “It’s the exact same thing,” he said.

While Mayor Rahm Emanuel attended an opening night showing of "Hamilton," his spokesman, Adam Collins, said it was an invitation-only event, and the tickets weren’t available for sale at any price.

Ferguson said his 65-person office would look into any reports they get of officials benefiting from preferential “Hamilton”  ticket treatment. (John Byrne)
 

What’s on tap

*Mayor Emanuel will attend a graduation ceremony for new Chicago police officers.

*Gov. Bruce Rauner’s public schedule was not available.

*Chicago City Council Finance Committee meets at 10 a.m. Agenda here.

*Cook County budget hearings: public hearing on board President Toni Preckwinkle’s budget, which includes a soda pop tax, at 9 a.m. Chief judge’s budget hearing at 1 p.m.

*CTA President Dorval Carter speaks to the City Club of Chicago at noon.

 

What we’re writing

*Kirk apologizes for Duckworth for family heritage debate jab, loses a couple of endorsements over the remark.

*City Hall sees federal civil rights probe of Chicago Police Department lasting a few more months.

*Chicago aldermen call for more water meters as rates rise.

*Emanuel’s Law Department sanctioned again for not disclosing police files.

*IL-8 overview: Krishnamoorthi, DiCianni seeking a promotion in suburban congressional contest to succeed Duckworth.

*Rauner Republicans face challenges turning Madigan attacks into results at ballot box.
 

What we’re reading

*Northwestern prof explains why Industrial Revolution didn’t happen in China.

*Ald. Deb Mell puts end to Ravenswood Manor traffic diverter.

*Syrians’ stark choice: "Doom" or green bus.

 

From the notebook

*Kirk responds to pulled endorsement: Republican U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk’s campaign is labeling as “political” the decision by a leading gay-rights organization to pull its endorsement after he questioned the family heritage and military legacy of Democratic challenger Tammy Duckworth.

“Sen. Kirk is incredibly proud of his leadership to fight discrimination at every level, including speaking on the steps of the Supreme Court to urge them to support marriage equality,” Kirk campaign spokeswoman Eleni Demertzis said of the decision by the Human Rights Campaign.

She called the group’s decision “unfortunate because it was based on politics instead of reality and further exemplified just how uncomfortable HRC was in supporting a Republican who was a leader for their efforts, including eradicating discrimination.”

Kirk had touted the HRC’s endorsement of his candidacy as a sign of his social moderation while Duckworth, a two-term congresswoman from Hoffman Estates, had attributed it to the politics of groups that decide to back incumbents over challengers.

The HRC had faced some criticism from Democrats over its original decision to endorse Kirk. It has now backed Duckworth.

Kirk on Friday apologized for his questioning of Duckworth’s family military lineage during a Thursday debate in Springfield after she called herself a "daughter of the American Revolution" and noted she had "bled for this nation."

"I had forgotten that your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington," Kirk responded at the debate.

Duckworth was born in Bangkok to a mother of Chinese heritage and a father of British descent. She is a member of the Illinois chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and said members of "my family serving on my father’s side (have fought) since the American Revolution."

Also revoking its endorsement was the Americans for Responsible Solutions political action committee, a gun-violence prevention organization co-founded by former Democratic U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords. (Rick Pearson)

*Moseley Braun featured in MoveOn.org video: Former U.S. senator and ambassador Carol Moseley Braun is featured in a new video from MoveOn.org Political Action, backing the Democratic Senate campaigns of Duckworth, Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada and Kamala Harris in California.

"I’m very excited to have as many women of color, as many people running for office who don’t fit the traditional role of wealthy, white, and male,” Moseley Braun says in the video. “I’m hopeful that we will wind up adding to the number of women and women of color in the Senate and I’m optimistic that we will.”

The former Democratic senator from Illinois was the first African-American woman elected to the Senate. MoveOn.org said to date only two women of color — Braun and Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii — have ever served in the chamber. (Rick Pearson)

*City Council budget hearings lunch update: Day 10, the final day of budget hearings, Southwest Side Ald. Michael Zalewski’s spread featured turkey, mashed potatoes, rigatoni bolognese, crab cakes and Caesar salad.

*The Sunday Spin: On this week’s show, Chicago Tribune political reporter Rick Pearson’s guests included Amanda Vinicky of Illinois Public Radio talking U.S. Senate race, and Kent Redfield, emeritus professor of political science at the University of Illinois at Springfield, talking about expensive races. The "Sunday Spin" airs from 7 to 9 a.m. on WGN 720-AM. Listen to the full show here.

 

Follow the money

*Illinois Sunshine looks at Biss’ anti-Rauner super PAC contributions.

*Track Illinois campaign contributions in real time here and here.

 

Beyond Chicago

*Clinton assails FBI’s Comey for "deeply troubling" email move.

*Trump boasts of philanthropy but giving falls short of words, WaPo finds.

*Boston Democratic law firm pays "bonuses" that match partners’ campaign contributions.

*Most powerful quake in Italy in 35 years.

 
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