FEBRUARY 17, 2011
President Obama’s good pal and former chief of staff could be in trouble for unlawfully accessing the private information of Chicago public employees in an effort to get their support for his mayoral candidacy.Rahm Emanuel sent a personal letter to the homes of city workers that evidently included sensitive information related to their pension, according to a local newspaper report. Outraged union leaders are demanding to know how the former White House bigwig got their names, home addresses and information about their retirement plans.One city employee said it was an “invasion of privacy” and compared it to getting his “Social Security number stolen.” Another claimed Emanuel’s letter looked “personal” and was clearly aimed at and written for city employees, not the general population. That public employee assures he doesn’t mind solicitations because he’s a registered voter, but this particular mailing crossed a line.Written on Emanuel’s personal stationery, the letter was sent in an unmarked white envelope with a postage stamp rather than the metered kind often used by political campaigns and advertisers. It addressed a contentious issue that’s become the focus of financially-strapped states and municipalities nationwide; the costly pension benefits of public employees.Evidently Emanuel alienated several local unions by suggesting that he would cut pension benefits for public workers if he were to run the Windy City. In the letter he blames “political games” by his opponents for distorting his position, which he says is to “protect the retirement of our workers.” He assures that it would be “wrong to take away benefits that hard-working city workers have earned.”While this sort of rhetoric is quite common in political campaigns, the question remains; how did Emanuel get the names and home addresses of Chicago’s public employees? A city official quoted in the news story assures that, even in response to public records requests, databases never include home addresses. “It’s all exempt,” the official confirmed.A member of Judicial Watch’s “Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians,” Emanuel is well known for his unscrupulous antics, which include serving as Bill Clinton’s chief money-man and defending the impeached president’s many scandals. As White House chief of staff, Emanuel reportedly interfered with Senate elections inPennsylvania and Colorado by offering federal appointments to persuade candidates opposed by Obama to abandon their campaigns. Emanuel was also heavily embroiled in the Rod Blagojevich scandal because he was Obama’s chief negotiator when the former Illinois governor attempted to sell his vacated Senate seat to the highest bidder.
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