Chicago mayor's campaign accused of offering extra credit to high school volunteers

January 17, 2023

Chicago's controversial Mayor Lori Lightfoot recently found herself in the spot light again following a report that her campaign used the offer of extra credit to recruit high school students. 

According to NBC News, the Chicago Public Schools Office of Inspector General confirmed this past Thursday that it is examining the allegation.

Campaign official proposed campaign "externship program"

A statement explained that it has "opened an investigation into this matter and we are currently gathering information to determine which, if any, policies have been violated."

That revelation comes in the wake of an earlier report by Chicago PBS station WTTW News which cited an email sent to the official work email accounts of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) teachers by Megan Crane, who serves as Lightfoot's deputy campaign manager for Lightfoot.

Crane suggested that students could be approached with the offer of a campaign "externship program" which would carry "class credit."

"We’re simply looking for enthusiastic, curious and hard-working young people eager to help Mayor Lightfoot win this spring," WTTW News quoted the email as reading.

"Abundance of caution"

WTTW News noted that a spokesperson for the Lightfoot campaign initially provided a statement that said the offer was made "to provide young people with the opportunity to engage with our campaign, learn more about the importance of civic engagement and participate in the most American of processes."

However, this was quickly followed by a second statement pledging that the campaign would "cease contact with CPS employees," something which was being done out of an "abundance of caution."

A third statement was subsequently put out later which said that "campaign staff have been reminded about the solid wall that must exist between campaign and official activities and that contacts with any city of Chicago, or other sister agency employees, including CPS employees, even through publicly available sources is off limits. Period."

Lightfoot opponent: "A sense of desperation is sitting in"

For her part, Lightfoot downplayed the incident during an interview with MSNBC, saying that it "was just simply a mistake."

"In our zeal to make sure young people had an opportunity to participate, and they are flocking to our campaign, one of our staffers reached out through publicly available to CPS teachers and our city colleges, and that was just simply a mistake," the mayor insisted.

However, Paul Vallas is a former Chicago school superintendent who is challenging Lightfoot for mayor, and he was less than understanding.

"I cannot believe CPS did this without some kind of clear message from City Hall," NBC News quoted Vallas as saying. "It might suggest that a sense of desperation is sitting in."

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