Chicago Way

Axelrod claims no ties to old firm's Citbank, Cubs deals with Emanuel


Obama senior campaign adviser David Axelrod says he has no role in massive deals that Citibank and the Chicago Cubs are negotiating with the city of Chicago, despite still being on the payroll of the public relations firm hired by both organizations.

Axelrod says he severed his connections to ASGK Public Strategies in 2009 when he left to become a senior adviser to Obama, but the Chicago Sun-Times reports he still has a presence in the office:

[Axelrod] still has an office there. His name is on the door. His old partners are still paying him the five annual $200,000 payments they agreed to when they bought him out.

Now, two of the firm’s clients — Citibank and the Chicago Cubs — have a lot riding on decisions to be made by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the Axelrod friend and former White House colleague who ran on a pledge to reform a City Hall he described as riddled with influence-peddling.

Axelrod says he had no role in landing those contracts and isn’t involved in the work ASGK is doing for Citibank, which wants to help finance Emanuel’s highly touted Chicago Infrastructure Trust, or for the Cubs, who want Emanuel’s help in financing a major renovation of Wrigley Field.

Axelrod says he didn’t even know Citibank was an ASGK client until a reporter told him.

A spokesperson for Emanuel also denied any influence-peddling is taking place.

“If you think hiring Axelrod’s old firm will get you special access or privileges, you are sorely mistaken,” spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton told the Sun-Times. “No person or company has an inside track into City Hall.”