May 24–A high-ranking Amazon official and former member of the Obama administration emailed Mayor Rahm Emanuel in January to tell him the company was “impressed” with Chicago’s high-stakes bid to land the online retail giant’s second headquarters and as many as 50,000 jobs, records show.
Jay Carney, Amazon’s senior vice president of corporate affairs, sent Emanuel the message on the same day the company announced it had narrowed the list of potential cities for its HQ2 to 20 from 238, and Chicago made the cut.
“Rahm — Assume you saw our news. We look forward to diving in deeper on Chicago’s proposal,” Carney wrote Jan. 18. “As I think I mentioned before, everyone here was impressed with the proposal your team put together. Many thanks, Jay.”
Carney and Emanuel worked together in former President Barack Obama’s administration. Carney was communications director for then-Vice President Joe Biden while Emanuel served as Obama’s first chief of staff. Carney later worked as Obama’s press secretary for 3 1/2 years.
“Yes aware. Thanks,” Emanuel responded in a message from his personal rahmemail.com address. “Hope you saw the recognition of our neighborhoods (7) that have it all!”
The mayor’s response was a reference to a January real estate rankings list published by Redfin, naming the nation’s “25 neighborhoods that ‘have it all’: affordable homes, highly rated schools, an easy commute and plenty of inventory.” Emanuel used the ranking, which included seven Chicago neighborhoods, as a talking point for several weeks as Amazon’s current headquarters resides in an increasingly expensive Seattle market.
“I did,” Carney responded. “Good stuff.”
Emanuel ended the email exchange with an apparent joke.
“Whose (sic) your daddy?” the mayor wrote. “Talk soon. Hope family is good.”
The messages were included in emails from the mayor’s personal account obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request. Under pressure from a pair of open records lawsuits from the Chicago Tribune and the Better Government Association, the mayor agreed to release on a quarterly basis emails from his personal accounts pertaining to government business.
Emanuel, though, has still maintained the emails are not a public record under the law. He made the arrangement, in which his personal attorney determines which emails are released, as part of a settlement with the BGA. The Tribune has continued its legal action against the mayor, and last week a Cook County judge sided with the newspaper and ruled that Emanuel violated state law by withholding for nearly a year and a half emails sent and received from his personal accounts that related to city business.
The mayor’s exchange with Carney shows Emanuel has established an open line of communication inside Amazon as the company evaluates where to locate its next headquarters. Emanuel and Gov. Bruce Rauner have offered Amazon $2 billion in incentives while hinting they may be willing to dig even deeper, the Tribune has previously reported. Amazon officials visited Chicago in March.
Emanuel’s emails show he has already lobbied Carney at least once about Chicago’s selling points.
“Sorry for bothering you on a Sunday. Saw the article about Bezos charitable donation,” the mayor wrote, referring to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’$33 million contribution to scholarships for so-called “Dreamers,” immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Emanuel went on to note the Chicago Star scholarships he started offer free tuition at City Colleges of Chicago for Chicago Public Schools students who earn a “B” average.
“It is the only public scholarship available to dreamers in America,” Emanuel wrote Carney. “66pct of the students are Hispanic who take of (sic) advantage of the chicago star scholarship.”
This article provided by NewsEdge.