Rahm Emanuel, President Barack Obama’s former chief of staff, testified about his wife’s wedding dress, family china and car registrations to prove that he meets a residency requirement to run for mayor of Chicago.
“I was planning on coming home and I wanted to go back into the home,” Emanuel said at a public hearing today at the Cook County Administration Building.
The Emanuels left china, photo albums and the dress at their Chicago home when they moved to Washington in 2009, he said today. He can’t live in the house while exploring a mayoral bid because he hasn’t been able to persuade the tenant in his 2,719-square-foot (252 square meters) home to move out before the lease expires in June. The tenants are Robert and Lori Halpin, according to lease documents Emanuel provided to the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners.
“It was for the safety and security of the house,” Emanuel said, explaining why he rented his home on Chicago’s North Side while working in Washington. Emanuel had been answering questions for about five hours as of 2:30 p.m. Chicago time.
Emanuel, 51, is seeking to succeed retiring Mayor Richard M. Daley. Other candidates include U.S. Representative Danny Davis; Illinois state Senator James Meeks, minister of one of Chicago’s largest churches; City Clerk Miguel del Valle; former Chicago school board President Gery Chico; and former U.S. Senator and New Zealand Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun.
Emanuel amended his 2009 Illinois tax return after indicating he was only a part-time resident.
“I’m not an accountant,” he said during the hearing.
Emanuel and his wife, Amy Rule, wrote in a filing on Nov. 24 that amended returns made clear they were full-year residents of Illinois in 2009, according to a Chicago Sun-Times report on Dec. 12. They said they were also full-year residents in the state this year, the newspaper reported.
David Axelrod, a senior adviser to Obama, kept his Chicago house without renting it, unlike Emanuel, said Burt Odelson, the attorney leading the drive to get Emanuel kicked off the mayoral ballot.
Emanuel lined up backing from executives of major Chicago-area companies. A Nov. 15 fundraiser for him was co-hosted by Glenn Tilton, United Continental Holdings Inc. non-executive chairman, and Miles White, chief executive officer of Abbott Laboratories, among others.
Daley, 68, said Sept. 7 that he wouldn’t seek re-election to a seventh term. The City Council on Nov. 17 passed his 2011 budget of $6.15 billion, closing a $654 million deficit in part by asking union workers to join non-union employees in taking furlough days.
The next mayor may have to target city workers for firings and benefit cuts because of Chicago’s escalating employee costs, which comprise 83 percent of its $3.26 billion general fund for fiscal 2011. The city has repeatedly tapped reserve funds to balance its budget, leading Standard & Poor’s to cut Chicago’s credit rating on Nov. 5 by one level to A+, the fifth highest grade.
Following Emanuel’s questioning, the public will be invited to submit written comments that will be “a matter of public record,” Joseph A. Morris, the hearing officer overseeing the matter for the election board, said today.
Morris said he will issue a non-binding recommendation to the board sometime this week. Their vote will decide if Emanuel will be allowed to continue his mayoral bid.
The losing party has a week to file an appeal with the circuit court, Jim Allen, a spokesman for the board, wrote in an e-mail today.
Emanuel is a former U.S. congressman whose district comprised parts of the city’s north side and northwest suburbs.