Finance

Rahm Emanuel Sure is Out of Town Often

April 18, 2014

By Bill Ruthhart

Mayor Rahm Emanuel flew around the country more than 50 times during his first 2 1/2 years in office, mixing city business with politics and attending events that helped burnish his national profile.

On at least nine of the trips, records show taxpayers covered all or part of the travel as Emanuel met with political donors or raised campaign money from wealthy business executives who helped stock a re-election fund that now tops $7 million.

An additional six taxpayer-funded trips listed little or no official city business but offered Emanuel a stage, from rubbing elbows with Washington's elite at exclusive dinners to giving a commencement speech to graduates of a master's program named after former President Bill Clinton.

A majority of the time, the public didn't know the mayor was out of town because his office did not disclose the trips, city records show. But the Tribune pieced together details of Emanuel's travel from campaign finance reports and thousands of pages of official calendars, public schedules and city expense records obtained through open records requests.

The documents, which detail thousands in taxpayer dollars spent on stays at luxury hotels and expensive airline tickets for Emanuel, show how the mayor has maintained his status as a national political figure frequently willing to travel to the power centers of America as he tries to sell Chicago and raise campaign contributions.

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