BRIDGEPORT — The White Sox are going to bat for Patrick Daley Thompson — a relative of the two former mayors — in his race to represent the 11th Ward on the City Council.
The team contributed $1,000 to Thompson's campaign fund late last month, according to records filed with the Illinois State Board of Elections. In doing so, the Sox became the only major Chicago sports team to have contributed to an aldermanic candidate during the current election cycle.
“Most of the sports teams are really serving a much broader metropolitan audience, and while they have [relationships] with the aldermen where their facilities are, most often they don’t get involved in local races,” said Dick Simpson, professor of political science at the University of Illinois at Chicago and former alderman.
While the White Sox pay only a small amount of rent for their use of the publicly-funded U.S. Cellular Field, Simpson said the organization’s donation to Thompson does not present a clear conflict of interest. The ballpark’s managing agency, the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority, answers to appointees of the governor and mayor rather than the City Council.
Still, aldermen are tasked with signing off on zoning changes and other major initiatives within their respective wards, meaning all businesses stand to be potentially affected by their City Hall representation.
“The White Sox might well be going to the next 11th Ward alderman for some possible expansion,” Simpson said.
A White Sox spokeswoman declined to respond questions, including about who authorized the donation and what issues were important to the club in determining which candidate to support.
Thompson, who has campaigned largely on a platform of economic development, released a statement through a spokesman saying he welcomed the club’s contribution.
“They employ many 11th Ward residents and Chicagoans,” he said. “Their presence here helps other local businesses thrive.”
Both Thompson’s grandfather, former Mayor Richard J. Daley, and his uncle, former Mayor Richard M. Daley, were avid White Sox fans. Other relatives, including Cook County Commissioner John Daley and former White House Chief of Staff William Daley, can be seen from time to time sitting in the family's seats next to the White Sox dugout.
“I am also a lifelong White Sox fan,” Thompson said. “I am honored to have their support and friendship along with the support of many other local businesses and residents who have generously contributed to my campaign.”
While detailed campaign finance reports won’t be available until later this month, Thompson appears to have far surpassed his two opponents in terms of fundraising.
He has so far reported 38 donations in excess of $1,000. In contrast, community activist Maureen Sullivan has reported one such contribution and law student John Kozlar has not reported any.
The election will be held on Feb. 24.
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