Person

Cari Sacks

Cari Sacks is a major Democratic donor living in Chicago. She is married to Michael Sacks, a hedge fund manager. Sacks and her husband are major players in Chicago politics, supporting leading Democrats in the city with donations. They were major supporters of former Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) and were influential in his administration. [1]

Sacks was a major supporter of former President Barack Obama. She and her husband were major super bundlers to his campaigns. [2] Sacks was appointed to a position in the Obama administration. [3] In 2015, Sacks’s daughter was chosen to be a White House intern by President Barack Obama after she and her husband donated nearly $700,000 to the Obama Foundation. [4]

In 2013, Sacks and her husband were accused of steering PAC contributions to then-Illinois Governor Pat Quinn (D) in exchange for Quinn steering state pension funds to Sacks’s husband’s company. [5]

Early Life and Career

While in college, Cari Sacks worked with children. After graduating college Sacks worked in public relations. She then took a graduate program at Erikson Institute, which specializes in early childhood education. While in graduate school, Sacks had her first son. [6]

Political Donations

Cari and her husband Michael Sacks are major Democratic Party donors both in Illinois and nationally. In 2008, Sacks was a donor to the presidential campaigns of both then-U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) and then-U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY).

In February 2010, Sacks was appointed to the President’s Advisory Committee on the Arts for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts by President Barack Obama. [7]

In the 2012 presidential campaign, the Sacks raised more than $200,000 for President Barack Obama’s reelection. [8] They even hosted a fundraiser for the Obama campaign at their Chicago apartment. [9]

Over the two terms Rahm Emanuel served as Chicago mayor, Sacks and her husband gave over $2.7 million to his campaigns. [10] This includes a $50,000 donation that Sacks gave in 2010. Sachs also donated to Emanuel’s super PAC, Chicago Forward and she donated to his inaugural. [11] In 2015, Sachs donated $125,000 to Emanuel’s campaign. [12]

In 2020, Sacks and her husband donated $3.8 million to Democrats. [13]

Controversies

Pension Deal

In 2013, the Illinois teachers’ pension system received permission to transfer pension funds to the control of Grosvenor Capital Management. Grosvenor is run by Cari Sacks’s husband, Michael. [14]

The decision was made after then-Illinois Governor Pat Quinn (D) received $70,000 from Personal PAC, a pro-abortion super PAC that was run at the time by Sacks. [15]

In the nine years before Quinn became governor, the Sacks gave $157,200 to Personal PAC. In the six years Quinn was in office, the Sacks gave $833,000 to the PAC and its independent expenditure arm. [16]

Both the state of Illinois and federal law ban using campaign contributions to influence how governments manage their money. The laws also have a ban on using PACs as conduits to funnel the money. [17]

Sacks denied a media report that the contributions were used to steer contracts to her husband’s company. She said that she and her husband had contributed to Personal PAC since 1990 and that she only increased her contributions after the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. [18]

Daughter’s Internship

In 2015, Sacks’s daughter Rachel received an internship at the Obama White House. The internships, which are seen as prestigious, are only awarded to 150 students. [19]

The internship was awarded after Sacks and her husband donated $666,000 to the Obama Foundation, which was building Obama’s presidential library after he left office. [20]

References

  1. Cunningham-Cook, Matthew, and David Sirota. 2015. “Chicago Pension Investments: Rahm Emanuel’s Proposed Merger Could Benefit Campaign Donors”. International Business Times. https://www.ibtimes.com/chicago-pension-investments-rahm-emanuels-proposed-merger-could-benefit-campaign-1993137. ^
  2.          Murphy, Rosalie. 2015. “Thunderbird Heights Still ‘Playground Of The Presidents'”. The Desert Sun. https://www.desertsun.com/story/news/2015/02/12/playground-presidents-maintains-reputation/23328255/. ^
  3. “President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts, 2/26/10”. 2010. White House. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/president-obama-announces-more-key-administration-posts-22610. ^
  4. Skiba, Katherine. 2015. “Daughter Of Major Obama Intern To Intern At White House”. Chicago Tribune. https://www.chicagotribune.com/politics/ct-obama-donor-daughter-wh-intern-met-20150626-story.html. ^
  5.           Cunningham-Cook, Matthew, and David Sirota. 2015. “Democratic Party Financier Got Big Illinois Pension Deal After PAC Contributions”. International Business Times. https://www.ibtimes.com/democratic-party-financier-got-big-illinois-pension-deal-after-pac-contributions-2029894. ^
  6. “Sacks Family Creates Scholarship For Leaders In Early Childhood”. 2013. Erikson Institute. https://www.erikson.edu/news/sacks-family-creates-scholarship-for-leaders-in-early-childhood/. ^
  7. “President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts, 2/26/10”. 2010. White House. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/president-obama-announces-more-key-administration-posts-22610. ^
  8. Murphy, Rosalie. 2015. “Thunderbird Heights Still ‘Playground Of The Presidents'”. The Desert Sun. https://www.desertsun.com/story/news/2015/02/12/playground-presidents-maintains-reputation/23328255/. ^
  9. Skiba, Katherine. 2015. “Daughter Of Major Obama Donor To Intern At White House”. Chicago Tribune. https://www.chicagotribune.com/politics/ct-obama-donor-daughter-wh-intern-met-20150626-story.html. ^
  10. Cunningham-Cook, Matthew, and David Sirota. 2015. “Chicago Pension Investments: Rahm Emanuel’s Proposed Merger Could Benefit Campaign Donors”. International Business Times. https://www.ibtimes.com/chicago-pension-investments-rahm-emanuels-proposed-merger-could-benefit-campaign-1993137. ^
  11. Ruthhart, Bill. 2014. “Emanuel Super PAC Gets Nearly $1 Million In One Day”. Chicago Tribune. https://www.chicagotribune.com/politics/ct-xpm-2014-07-02-chi-emanuel-super-pac-gets-nearly-1-million-in-one-day-20140702-story.html. ^
  12. “Rahm Emanuel’S Got Friends In High, Right Places”. 2015. Emily Gray Brosious. https://emilygraybrosious.wordpress.com/2015/04/06/rahm-emanuels-got-friends-in-high-right-places/. ^
  13. Sweet, Lynn. 2020. “The Inside Story On The Top Illinois Political Donors: The Who’S Who Of Biden’s Fundraisers”. Chicago Sun-Times. https://chicago.suntimes.com/columnists/2020/11/1/21545212/the-inside-story-on-gov-pritzker-othertop-illinois-political-donors-joe-biden-bundlers-whos-who. ^
  14. Cunningham-Cook, Matthew, and David Sirota. 2015. “Democratic Party Financier Got Big Illinois Pension Deal After PAC Contributions”. International Business Times. https://www.ibtimes.com/democratic-party-financier-got-big-illinois-pension-deal-after-pac-contributions-2029894. ^
  15. Cunningham-Cook, Matthew, and David Sirota. 2015. “Democratic Party Financier Got Big Illinois Pension Deal After PAC Contributions”. International Business Times. https://www.ibtimes.com/democratic-party-financier-got-big-illinois-pension-deal-after-pac-contributions-2029894. ^
  16. Cunningham-Cook, Matthew, and David Sirota. 2015. “Democratic Party Financier Got Big Illinois Pension Deal After PAC Contributions”. International Business Times. https://www.ibtimes.com/democratic-party-financier-got-big-illinois-pension-deal-after-pac-contributions-2029894. ^
  17. Cunningham-Cook, Matthew, and David Sirota. 2015. “Democratic Party Financier Got Big Illinois Pension Deal After PAC Contributions”. International Business Times. https://www.ibtimes.com/democratic-party-financier-got-big-illinois-pension-deal-after-pac-contributions-2029894. ^
  18. Cunningham-Cook, Matthew, and David Sirota. 2015. “Democratic Party Financier Got Big Illinois Pension Deal After PAC Contributions”. International Business Times. https://www.ibtimes.com/democratic-party-financier-got-big-illinois-pension-deal-after-pac-contributions-2029894. ^
  19. Skiba, Katherine. 2015. “Daughter Of Major Obama Donor To Intern At White House”. Chicago Tribune. https://www.chicagotribune.com/politics/ct-obama-donor-daughter-wh-intern-met-20150626-story.html. ^
  20. Skiba, Katherine. 2015. “Daughter Of Major Obama Donor To Intern At White House”. Chicago Tribune. https://www.chicagotribune.com/politics/ct-obama-donor-daughter-wh-intern-met-20150626-story.html. ^
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