Campaign surrogate Lightfoot is trying to link Chuy to the accused crypto billionaire

Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s campaign surrogate and one of her 10 challengers tried Tuesday to link clear front-runner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia to indicted cryptocurrency billionaire Samuel Bankman-Fried.

A day after FTX’s prodigious co-founder was arrested in the Bahamas to face charges of “orchestrating a scheme to defraud stock investors,” Lightfoot supporter and state Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D-Chicago) questioned Bankman-Fried’s motives for spending $151,420 in direct mail pieces that introduced Garcia to voters in his newly redrawn congressional district.

The contribution raised eyebrows for two big reasons. First, Garcia ran unopposed in the Democratic primary in a safe district where his little-known Republican opponent neither raised nor spent money. And secondly, Garcia is a member of the US House Financial Services Committee, which regulates parts of the digital asset industry that includes cryptocurrencies.

A statement released by the Lightfoot campaign quoted Cassidy as saying the federal charges against Bankman-Fried “raise serious questions about his nearly $200,000 in campaign financing for Chuya Garcia.

“What were Bankman-Fried’s motives for spending so much money to re-elect Rep. Garcia and what did Garcia promise in return, especially when he was running unopposed at the time?” Cassidy was quoted.

“Voters deserve to know the facts when making important decisions about who they can trust. “Unfortunately, it looks like Chuy Garcia is going to bring back the old Chicago-style politics – and we can’t afford that at City Hall,” Cassidy said.

Chicago Sun-Times columnist Lynn Sweet revealed the Bankman-Fried contributions to the so-called Protect Our Future independent PAC in late June. At the time, Garcia told Sweet that Bankman-Fried had called him on the phone about a week and a half earlier to discuss one of his concerns, pandemic preparedness.

On Tuesday, Cassidy argued that “straight talk” raises troubling questions for Garcia, the clear favorite in a recent opinion poll funded by Operating Engineers Local 150.

“What was said in that conversation that gave Mr. Bankman-Fried the impression that Garcia was a worthwhile investment for him?” Cassidy was quoted.

Garcia’s campaign manager Gisel Aceves called Cassidy’s side on behalf of Lightfoot—and a similar attack by mayoral candidate Kam Buckner—”misleading and desperate attacks” from a “flailing campaign.”

“Congressman Garcia is and always has been a skeptic of cryptocurrencies and continues to advocate for stricter financial regulations in an industry he sees as ripe for fraud and a significant threat to market stability,” Aceves said in a statement.

“By definition, a congressman has not been involved in any independent campaign expenses. And he was one of the first members of Congress to make an individual contribution of $2,900 from Bankman-Fried to charity.”

She added, “Congressman Garcia is ready to work with the citizens of Chicago to build a brighter future. It’s time for a mayor who will bring us together – instead of dividing us.”

Lightfoot campaign spokeswoman Christina Freundlich was asked why the mayor chose a campaign surrogate to attack Garcia instead of launching an offensive himself.

“It’s just a decision we decided to make. I don’t really have an explanation for you. That’s why we have backers and supporters to help us amplify our campaign message,” Freundlich said.

“I’m not saying that the mayor will bring it up herself or not. But we decided to use a surrogate campaign today. In addition to the indictments that have been filed [against Bankman-Fried], there will be more attention to it. And Kelly lays out pretty clearly our reasoning for why there are questions about that.”

Lightfoot owes his election in 2019 to the corruption scandal still swirling around the now accused Aldo, who will soon be retired. Edward Burke (14th).

Freundlich said Tuesday that it was “too early to tell” whether Lightfoot could similarly lead the Bankman-Fried scandal to re-election.

“The history of Chicago politics and the questions raised about where his campaign donations come from, who he’s associated with and where his money comes from call into question what kind of City Hall he’s going to run,” she said.

Buckner questioned how a “self-proclaimed reformer” like Garcia could “accept special interest support from a crypto billionaire whose future of the industry rests on members of Congress?”

“Garcia is no different from himself as a self-serving machine politician unfit to transparently lead our city,” Buckner said in a statement.

Bankman-Fried was arrested in the Bahamas on Monday, a day before he was scheduled to testify before a US House committee that includes Garcia. He faces charges ranging from defrauding lenders and buyers related to bank transactions, securities and commodities to conspiracy to launder money and conspiracy to defraud the United States and violating campaign finance laws.

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