Did President Obama Tamper with the Chicago Mayoral Election on Behalf of His Former Chief of Staff?
Hillary Clinton’s 2008 comment about Barack Obama at a Democratic presidential debate is as true and important in 2012 as it was the day Hillary first said it: “Barack Obama has not been thoroughly vetted.” Now more than ever the media and political pundits need to vet President Obama for possibly tampering with Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago Board of Elections trial.
President Obama and the Chicago election commissioner, Langdon D. Neal, who was in charge of Obama’s former Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel’s election case met at the White House nine days before the election commissioner ruled in favor of Emanuel. Neal was in the White House for over 10 hours on the day the Chicago Board of Elections started the Rahm Emanuel trial.
President Obama has strong ties and a long history with Election Commissioner Langdon D. Neal. President Obama and Election Commissioner Neal’s relationship at the very least goes back to 1999 when both men served on the board of the Chicago Public Education Fund Leadership Council.
Corruption is a common occurrence at the Chicago Board of Elections. The record shows that Election Commissioner Neal’s law firm received over $100 million in no-bid government contracts between 2004 and 2011 from the same public officials whose elections he conducted and certified. Neal succeeded the election commissioner who denied ballot access to Obama’s four Illinois state senator opponents. Obama ran for the state senate in 1996 unopposed thanks to election commissioners affiliated with the Chicago machine.
According to the White House visitor’s log, President Obama invited Chicago election commissioner Langdon Neal on Dec. 9, 2010, for a Dec. 14, 2010, White House visit. Chicago Board of Elections hearing officer Joseph A. Morris held a pre-trial hearing on the Emanuel case on Dec. 6, 2010. Thus President Obama’s Dec. 9, 2010, invitation to Election Commissioner Neal came three days after Emanuel’s Dec. 6, 2010, pre-trial hearing. On Dec. 13, 2010, Neal’s White House visit was changed from a 6:30 PM time of arrival to a 1:30 PM time of arrival to allow Neal five more hours in the White House. Neal’s invitation and visit to the White House raises eyebrows and questions:
• Did election Commissioner Neal and President Obama meet in a room alone for a private conversation about the election commissioner’s residency case involving ex-White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel?
• Why was Neal’s visit changed from 6:30 PM to 1:30 PM to allow Neal five more hours in the White House?
• Why did President Obama give Neal only five days notice when he invited Neal to the White House?
• Did Neal speak to presidential advisers David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett, the two other White House aides affiliated with the Chicago political machine?
Obama’s short, five-day notice for Neal’s White House visit and the Dec. 14, 2010, meeting with Election Commissioner Neal are highly suspicious. On Dec. 14, 2010, Neal left Chicago and was in Washington, D.C. on the exact day the Chicago Board of Elections started the Rahm Emanuel trial. Neal’s White House visit was hastily scheduled and occurred a mere nine days before Neal made a decision in favor of Emanuel.
Not only was Neal dealing with a record number of candidates who had filed for Chicago elected offices and 400 challenges to candidates’ nominating petitions on the day he visited the White House, but Rahm Emanuel’s pre-trial hearing and trial were described as a “circus.” Media from all over the country descended upon the Chicago Board of Elections to cover the Emanuel hearing. Why did Neal leave Chicago to visit the White House when the Chicago Board of Elections was holding its most controversial and publicized trial?
Rahm Emanuel’s Ballot Access Timeline
Oct. 1, 2010
|Rahm Emanuel resigns as White House Chief of Staff to run for mayor of Chicago.|
Nov. 30, 2010
|32 people file objections to Rahm Emanuel running for mayor with the Chicago Board of Elections. 26 of the 32 objectors continue with their objections to trial against Emanuel.|
Dec. 6, 2010
|Chicago Board of Election’s Hearing Officer Joseph A. Morris holds a pre-trial session for objections against Emanuel. Morris schedules Emanuel’s trial for Dec. 14, 2010.|
Dec. 9, 2010
|President Obama invites Chicago Board of Election Commissioner Langdon Neal to the White House three days after Rahm Emanuel’s pre-trial hearing. Election Commissioner Neal’s White House visit is planned to take place before Neal makes his ruling on the Emanuel case.|
Dec. 13, 2010
|Election Commissioner Neal’s White House visit is changed from 6:30 PM to 1:30 PM time of arrival to allow Neal five more hours in the White House.|
Dec. 14, 2010
|The first day of the highly controversial and publicized Emanuel trial starts in Chicago while Election Commissioner Neal is at the White House.|
Dec. 14, 2010
|Six weeks after Emanuel left the White House, Neal who is the Chicago election commissioner in charge of the Emanuel trial meets in Washington, D.C., with President Obama, Emanuel’s former boss.|
Dec. 22, 2010
|Hearing officer Morris recommends a decision in favor of Emanuel that Election Commissioner Neal can either accept or reject.|
Dec. 23, 2010
|Nine days after visiting President Obama in the White House, Election Commissioner Neal affirms Morris’ recommendation in favor of Emanuel. Commissioner Neal had the authority to reject Morris’ recommendation but did not.|
The Public Deserves to Know Why a Chicago Election Commissioner Visited the White House
President Obama asking Neal to visit him at the White House shows that Neal and Obama were more than distant acquaintances. For the transparency that President Obama promised before his 2008 election, the president should make public the following:
- President Obama should tell the public if he knew that Election Commissioner Neal was the legal authority in charge of the Rahm Emanuel residency trial.
- The president should state whether he knew that Election Commissioner Neal was going to rule on the Emanuel case shortly after meeting him in the White House.
- The president should explain why he asked Neal to visit him and what they discussed while Neal was at the White House.
- The President should disclose whether he knew that he and Neal met in the White House on the day the Emanuel trial started.
- President Obama should also explain his relationship and involvement with Neal over the years.
Election Commissioner Neal has conducted elections for hundreds of candidates, but the only Chicago Board of Election candidate that Neal gave a campaign contribution to is Barack Obama. Election Commissioner Neal gave U.S. Senate candidate Barack Obama a $1,000.00 campaign contribution on Feb. 11, 2004. Neal’s contribution to candidate Obama occurred one month before Election Commissioner Neal certified Obama’s U.S. Senate primary election victory and nine months before Neal and the Chicago Board of Elections certified Obama’s general election victory.
There is no record of a Neal campaign contribution to any of Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate opponents. Neal’s financial contribution in support of Obama’s U.S. Senate campaign violated Neal’s civic duty to serve as an “impartial” election commissioner. If Neal remains an election commissioner, Neal will certify for the City of Chicago Obama’s 2012 presidential election since Neal’s latest appointment doesn’t end until 2014.
Barack’s “Bonehead’” White House Invitation
The reasons why President Obama would want to try to influence Chicago Election Commissioner Neal’s decision on Emanuel’s residency are obvious. Had President Obama’s former Chief of Staff left the White House to run for mayor and been unable to do so, it would have been a tremendous embarrassment for the president. Obama felt personally responsible that Emanuel gave up his chance to become Speaker of the House of Representatives in order to work as his Chief of Staff. President Obama’s help in getting Emanuel on the ballot for mayor of Chicago was the least Obama could do for Emanuel. President Obama did not publicly endorse Emanuel for mayor because Obama did not want to anger his African-American supporters in Chicago, but the president consented to Emanuel’s use of political ads in which Obama praised Emanuel.
President Obama, former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, and Election Commissioner Neal all belong to the same political machine. By sticking together and making back-room deals, Chicago politicians like them sustain the power and strength of the machine. Obama and Neal interceding on Emanuel’s behalf is nothing more than two Chicago machine politicians coming together to support a third. However, if Obama or one of his White Houses aides conspired with Election Commissioner Neal to put Emanuel on the ballot, it could be a criminal matter.
Election Commissioner Neal visited the White House on Dec. 14, 2010; nine days later on Dec. 23, 2010, Neal decided to put Emanuel on the ballot. Neal’s White House visit begs the question, Did President Obama summon Neal to the White House to influence the election commissioner’s residency decision in favor of Rahm Emanuel? Even if President Obama and Election Commissioner Neal deny that they spoke about Emanuel’s residency case, the election commissioner’s invitation to the White House and meeting with the president are suspect in and of themselves. If the Chicago Board of Elections denied Obama’s four state senate opponents the opportunity to run against him in 1996, surely Obama knew it was possible for Neal to put Emanuel’s name on the ballot regardless of the fact that Emanuel filed tax forms stating that he was a “part-time or non-resident” of Chicago.
Senior Advisor Axelrod and Emanuel’s 30-Year Friendship
On the day Election Commissioner Neal went to the White House, David Axelrod was one of President Obama’s senior advisors. Axelrod remains one of Rahm Emanuel’s most trusted and influential confidants. According to a recent Chicago Sun Times’ “Inside Team Rahm’” article, Emanuel and Axelrod continue to speak three or four times a week. Axelrod and Emanuel began their friendship 30 years ago. Axelrod played a significant role in Emanuel’s wedding. It was Axelrod who persuaded Obama to hire Emanuel as White House Chief of Staff. Supposedly Axelrod and the White House are already pushing for Emanuel to run for president in 2016.
Given his 30-year personal and political relationship with Emanuel, it’s a sure bet that senior White House advisor David Axelrod had something to do with Election Commissioner Neal’s White House visit, which took place on the same day Neal’s underling was hearing Axelrod’s good friend and political ally’s residency case.
Emanuel’s successful run for mayor isn’t the first time an Emanuel election has involved questionable conduct and David Axelrod. Former Water Department Deputy Commissioner Donald Tomczak testified in federal court that his patronage army of 225 city employees campaigned for Emanuel when Emanuel ran for Congress. Before Axelrod became Obama’s political wizard, Axelrod was in charge of Tomczak’s unlawful campaign workers when he managed Emanuel’s successful campaigns for Congress.
Emanuel didn’t pay for Tomczak’s campaign workers out of his personal bank account or campaign fund. The Daley administration, which previously employed Emanuel, gave Tomczak’s campaign workers city jobs, promotions, salary hikes, overtime pay, and plum assignments for campaigning for Emanuel and other candidates.
What’s worse, Emanuel could have afforded to pay for his own campaign help. While working in investment banking, Emanuel earned $16 million in the two years before unwitting taxpayers paid money to support his campaign staff.
Emanuel resigned his White House Chief of Staff position six weeks before President Obama and Election Commissioner Langdon Neal met in the White House. Given Emanuel’s reputation and political history, it wouldn’t come as a surprise if Emanuel himself orchestrated Election Commissioner Neal’s White House visit with the help of his good friend David Axelrod. Though the White House visitors log lists President Obama as the person who invited Neal to Washington D.C., it is more likely that Axelrod or Emanuel himself was the person who came up with the original idea of the face-to-face White House meeting with Election Commissioner Neal.
The Offices Election Commission Neal Visited
When Commissioner Neal’s invitation time was moved up from 6:30 PM to 1:30 PM, an “OEOB” meeting location was added to Neal’s White House visit. OEOB stands for Old Executive Office Building. The Executive Offices of the President are in the OEOB, which may include the offices of senior advisors David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett. Though Election Commissioner Neal went to the White House at the invitation of President Obama, senior advisors Axelrod and Jarrett were also in a place and position to influence Neal’s residency decision on behalf of President Obama and Rahm Emanuel.
The Old Executive Office Building is also where Rahm Emanuel managed the Executive Office of the President employees until he resigned as President Obama’s Chief of Staff to run for mayor of Chicago. Election Commissioner Neal went to the building where Rahm Emanuel was in charge of its employees six weeks after Emanuel left it and nine days before he ruled in favor of Emanuel. Besides Axelrod and Jarret, the Old Executive Office Building must of housed numerous Emanuel co-workers who supported Emanuel’s campaign for mayor.
Independent Investigation of President Obama
For President Obama to invite a corrupt Chicago election commissioner to the White House is an insult to all Americans, especially members of the armed forces who put their lives at risk to preserve our freedom, including our right to vote. Brave Americans have recently fought and died in Afghanistan and Iraq to establish democratic elections in which people in their own countries elect their own representatives. The United States Commander in Chief’s White House invitation to an election commissioner who has likely denied candidates and voters their constitutional rights to impartial elections is sending the wrong message to his troops.
Obama, Emanuel, and Neal’s long-time involvement with the Chicago political machine makes Neal’s White House visit highly suspicious. Since Election Commissioner Neal was the Chicago Board of Election’s final decision maker in the Rahm Emanuel residency case, an independent investigation is necessary to determine if President Obama, David Axelrod, or Valerie Jarrett unduly influenced Election Commissioner Neal on behalf of Obama’s former White House Chief of Staff.
Independent Counsel Ken Star investigated President Bill and First Lady Hillary Clinton’s financial investment in the Whitewater real estate project that occurred before they occupied the White House. Obama’s alleged misconduct is much more serious than the Clintons’ because of the possibility that Obama tampered with his former Chief of Staff’s residency case while he was serving as president. Furthermore, the Clinton Whitewater investigation involved financial improprieties while the Obama allegations involve tampering with a candidate and an election. If the Clintons’ alleged participation in Whitewater merited an independent counsel, surely Obama and his staff’s long-time relationship with corrupt Election Commissioner Neal and Neal’s suspiciously timed White House visit also warrant an independent counsel.