Parents Defending Education Files Ethics Complaint Against Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot & Campaign

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On January 12, 2023, Parents Defending Education (PDE) filed an ethics complaint with the City of Chicago Board of Ethics pursuant to Governmental Ethics Ordinance Chapter 2-156 of the Municipal
Code of Chicago against Mayor Lori Lightfoot and her campaign manager, Megan Crane. Parents Defending Education formally requests that the City of Chicago’s Board of Ethics open an investigation into the campaign activities of the Lightfoot reelection campaign.

As reported by WTTW’s Heather Cherone on January 11, 2023 in “Lightfoot Campaign Asks CPS Teachers to Encourage Students to Help Her Win Reelection in Return for Credit” (attached as Exhibit A):

Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s reelection campaign sent an email to Chicago Public Schools teachers Wednesday asking them to encourage their students to volunteer to help Lightfoot win a second term as mayor – and earn class credit.

It was unclear how many Chicago teachers received the email from Megan Crane, whose LinkedIn page identifies her as the deputy campaign manager for Lightfoot. The message was sent to teachers’ official work email accounts, which end in

The email says participants in the “externship program” would be expected to contribute 12 hours per week to the Lightfoot campaign and students could earn “class credit.”

This inducement appears to violate Section 2-156-135 (b) governing prohibited political activities:

No official, employee, or candidate for City office shall intentionally use any City property or
resources of the City in connection with any prohibited political activity; provided, however, any
official, employee or candidate for City office may reserve and rent a City-owned facility at a fair
market value before any such activity or event connected therewith.

The use of an email list composed of emails merits investigation as to how these email addresses were obtained, and whether the Lightfoot campaign paid fair market value for this contact information.

Furthermore, the offer of “class credit” to students raises questions whether the Lightfoot campaign also violated Section 2-156-142 (c), which governs “Gifts and Other Favors”:

No person shall offer, with intent to violate, or make a gift that violates, this section.

Accordingly, we ask that the Board of Ethics promptly investigate the allegations in this complaint, act swiftly to remedy unlawful policies and practices, and order appropriate relief.