PI Original Josh Kalven Thursday February 19th, 2009, 11:09am

IL-5: Fritchey's Fundraiser, O'Connor's Ad, Donatelli Sticks Foot In Mouth

The latest from the race to replace Rahm Emanuel in the 5th Congressional District ...

According to the Sun-Times' Abdon Pallasch, John Fritchey held a fundraiser at Tavern on Rush Tuesday night.  Yesterday, his campaign filed a 48-hour contribution notice (for donations ...

The latest from the race to replace Rahm Emanuel in the 5th Congressional District ...

According to the Sun-Times' Abdon Pallasch, John Fritchey held a fundraiser at Tavern on Rush Tuesday night.  Yesterday, his campaign filed a 48-hour contribution notice (for donations over $1,000) that included $40,000 in new money.  Sara Feigenholtz and Mike Quigley have also posted new 48-hour filings.  Of note in the latest contributions, State Reps. Karen Yarbrough and Ken Dunkin both contributed to Feigenholtz's campaign.

Below you'll see our updated fundraising table.  Keep in mind that the totals are still incomplete as the pre-primary filings (covering the period from January 1 to February 11) won't be fully available until later today or tomorrow:

In Springfield, Fritchey has made ethics one of his central issues and, to his credit, has supported several worthy reforms.  So one would expect him to distance himself from the questionable political culture represented by the 36th Ward Democrats.  Instead, he has benefited from them.  The most recent indication of this is the Tuesday fundraiser, which Pallasch reported was hosted by Fritchey's brother-in-law, zoning attorney James Banks. For those who aren't familiar with Banks' lucrative dealings -- which span the legal, financial, and real estate industries -- you can read up on him here.

As I detailed two weeks ago, Fritchey holds a side job as a zoning lawyer and has represented various corporate clients before the city zoning committee, chaired by his uncle-in-law Ald. William Banks (who recuses himself whenever Fritchey comes before the body).  He has also come under fire after securing zoning changes for incongruous developments like hip-hop producer Rudy Acosta's castle-like mansion in the Independence Park neigborhood.  (Incidentally, Acosta ultimately switched his representation from Fritchey to ... James Banks.) 

And as the Sun-Times reported in an October 2008 article, Fritchey secured a $491,000 mortgage on his Lincoln Park home in late 2007 (on top of two separate morgages on the property) from Belmont Bank & Trust, which James Banks founded and chairs.

Again, when it comes to Fritchey's record in the statehouse, there is little to quibble with.  It's just troubling that -- even now, as he sets his sights on higher office -- he has chosen to reap the rewards of his brother-in-law's largesse, rather than disassociating himself from the 36th Ward operation entirely.  After all, there are federal investigations currently swirling around the disturbing relationships between Chicago lawmakers and developers. Not surprisingly, they've touched on several of James Banks' clients.    

In other news, Jan Donatelli sent out a press release yesterday -- headlined "End The Cycle Of Selfishness!" -- blasting her fellow 5th District candidates for not showing up at Tuesday's pro-Employee Free Choice Act rally in Chicago:

Noticeably absent last night, however, were any of the other candidates for the race in the 5th, all of whom portray themselves as “friends of unions.” State Representative John Fritchey, who has been endorsed by the very groups that sponsored the rally, was attending a fund raiser at a posh restaurant outside of the district.

In fact, both Fritchey and Tom Geoghegan attended the rally.  Whoops.

Ald. Pat O'Connor has released his first ad, which will air on the cable networks, according to Capitol Fax:

The ad does a couple of interesting things.  One, it repeatedly highlights his position as last on the ballot (an important thing to get in voters minds when there are this many candidates in the race).  Two, it touts his role as Mayor Daley's unofficial floor leader on the city council, which will play well with a lot of voters on the northwest side of the district.  O'Connor has also (finally) launched a campaign website.  It features this stiff and rather non-sensical tag line: "I won't be your 'Washington Representative' -- I will be your representative in Washington."

Finally, be sure to read Archpundit's appraisal of the six top tier candidates in the race and Ben Joravsky's feature article in The Reader examining the race.  Also, check out the videos and questionnaires released by ABC 7 as part of their online candidate forum.

Full disclosure: The SEIU Illinois Council -- which is the sole sponsor of Progress Illinois -- has endorsed Sara Feigenholtz in the 5th Congressional District race.  Progress Illinois itself will not be endorsing any candidate in this contest. 

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