A ruling from an Illinois appellate court says Barack Obama’s friend and former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, is not eligible to be mayor of Chicago.
Today’s ruling, ironically, comes just as Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie appears to be throwing in the towel on finding and making public Obama’s long-form, hospital-generated birth certificate and the White House continues to stonewall questions about his eligibility.
In a challenge brought by Chicago-based attorney Burt Odelson, the Illinois Appellate Court ruled that Emanuel’s name must be taken off the Chicago mayoral ballot because he does not meet the residency requirements.
“We conclude that the candidate [Rahm Emanuel] neither meets the municipal code’s requirements that he have ‘resided’ in Chicago for the year preceding the election in which he seeks to participate nor falls within any exception to the requirement,” the Illinois Appellate Court wrote in its opinion.
Michael Kasper, the lead attorney for the former White House chief of staff, told ChicagoNewsScoop.org that he planned to appeal, but was not sure the Illinois Supreme Court would hear the case.
Emanuel has been leading Chicago mayoral candidate polls, leading to speculation that he would win the Feb. 22 election with a majority, thereby avoiding an April run-off election.
Emanuel has so far raised $10.6 million in the first three months of his mayoral bid, a sum that is expected to be almost three times the total donated to all his opponents in the Feb. 22 election.
Mayoral challenger Gery Chico, a former chief of staff to Mayor Richard Daley and a long-time Chicago Democratic politics insider, had raised $1 million as of Dec. 31, according to reports filed with the Illinois State Board of Elections, while former Illinois state senator Carol Moseley Braun, a Democrat, has about $125,000 on hand, as reported by the Associated Press.
On Nov. 19, 2010, WND reported Odelson was confident he would ultimately be able to keep Emanuel off the ballot by winning the case at the appellate level.
“If I didn’t think I was going to win, I wouldn’t file the challenge,” Odelson told WND last November, correctly predicting he would lose the challenge with the Board of Election Commissioners for the City of Chicago, only to be vindicated by Illinois higher courts.
“Elections law clearly specifies that a candidate for mayor in Chicago must have been a resident of Illinois for at least a year before running for election,” Odelson said. “Emanuel is a resident of Washington, D.C., where he lives with his wife and family, not Chicago.”
“I have no doubt I will win. Rahm Emanuel will never be on the ballot this year to succeed Mayor Richard Daley as mayor of Chicago,” he predicted at the time.
On Dec. 23, 2010, the Chicago Board of Elections voted 3-0 that Emanuel was eligible to be a mayoral candidate on the Feb. 22 Chicago mayoral ballot.
The decision of the Chicago Board of Elections confirmed a ruling from Joseph Morris, a local Chicago attorney and elections official who conducted a three-day hearing in December, deciding Emanuel should be allowed to appear on the ballot.
“The preponderance of this evidence establishes that the candidate never formed an intention to terminate his residence in Chicago; never formed an intention to establish his residence in Washington, D.C., or any other place than Chicago; and never formed an intention to change residence,” Morris told CNN last December.
Today, Odelson remains confident that he will win at the level of the Illinois Supreme Court, if Emanuel appeals today’s appellate court ruling.
WND reported on Oct. 5, 2010, that Odelson argued Obama is oddly more qualified to run for mayor in Chicago than is Rahm Emanuel.
“Obama has a residence in Chicago,” he pointed out. “Obama has not rented out his Chicago residence and he visits it regularly.”
“This is a fact-sensitive determination,” he stressed, “and as far as I know, Emanuel has rented his residence in Illinois since September 2009. He may be a property owner, but he is not a resident within the applicable definition of the Illinois code.”
Odelson stressed that a person may own one or more home, but for legal purposes, a person can only have one official domicile under the law.
“Rahm Emanuel lives in the District of Columbia, not Chicago,” he said. “The legal question of his eligibility to run for mayor of Chicago is as simple as that. Rahm Emanuel is not eligible.”
“He hasn’t rented a place in Chicago that he can claim is his residence,” Odelson noted. “He isn’t attempting to say he’s living in his mother’s basement or with friends in Chicago. This is not a hard case for me to win.”
Odelson speculated Emanuel might try to qualify under a provision in the Illinois code that was passed in 1943 to prevent Illinois residents who were in military service during World War II from losing their status as Illinois residents while they were stationed overseas.
But, “Emanuel was not in Washington as a member of the military,” Odelson objected. “He leased his house on Chicago’s North Side and he moved his family to Washington.”
Even if Emanuel used an absentee ballot to vote in an Illinois election like the primary, the legitimacy of his vote could be called into question and that vote alone, even if somehow he was permitted to cast it, would not establish his residency to run for mayor, Odelson said.
Odelson, who has been practicing municipal and elections law for 38 years, cited Illinois state law regarding the qualifications for elective office, 65 ILCS 5/3.1-10-5(a), that clearly states, “A person is not eligible for an elective municipal office unless that person is a qualified elector of the municipality and has resided in the municipality at least one year next preceding the election or appointment.”
Although Odelson represents both Democrats and Republicans in Illinois politics, he was selected by then-Gov. George W. Bush’s presidential election campaign to represent the Republican side in the Florida voter recount during the 2000 presidential election.
Odelson was qualified for this assignment by the role he played in 1990 case Pullen v. Mulligan, 561 N.E.2d 585 (1990), a case that first defined the term “chad” as signifying the paper residue that can result from an incompletely punched voter form.
The term for the newly elected mayor in Chicago starts May 16, 2011.
Incumbent Mayor Richard M. Daley, a Democrat, has been in office since 1989; he is not running for re-election.
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