By Robert Dietz
Progress Illinois | February 4, 2011
We now have some idea as to who is funding the secretive pro-business political action committee For A Better Chicago (FBC), which promises to play a big role in Chicago's city council elections this year. David Herro, a mutual fund manager, donated $10,000 to the group, the first such donation that is traceable. It turns out that not only does Herro have a history of donating serious money to aldermanic candidates who will support business interests, such as an expansion of Wal-Mart stores throughout the city, he has also spent big bucks supporting Republican candidates at the federal level through similar shadow groups that use the financial loopholes FBC is exploiting.
According to federal records, Herro gave $190,000 in the weeks leading up to the 2010 elections to the New Prosperity Foundation, which formed in late 2009 and showed serious political power, running ads against Democratic candidates in the Midwest, including Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias. A report in the Huffington Post said the New Prosperity Foundation is "classified as a 527, meaning it can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money, including contributions from corporations." The group's chairmen are Ron Gidwitz, a former GOP candidate for governor in Illinois and a big-time donor to George W. Bush, and Gregory Baise, the head of the Illinois Manufacturers Association, a group that gave heavily to Illinois Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Brady. The New Prosperity Foundation received start-up funds from a trust controlled by a major contributor to the smear group Swift Boat Veterans and POW's for Truth.
New Prosperity wasn't the only Republican group that benefited from Herro's largesse. He also donated $10,000 to American Crossroads, a 527 group founded a year ago by Karl Rove, and its tax-exempt partner Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies. American Crossroads is the group that spent millions backing then-U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk in the fall election for U.S. Senate.
Herro overwhlemingly gives to Republicans, including U.S. Reps. from Illinois Robert Schilling, Judy Biggert, Peter Roskam, Randy Hultgren, Adam Kinzinger, Robert Dold, and Aaron Schock. In 2007, Herro spent $75,000 on opponents of Chicago Ald. Joe Moore (49th Ward), a strong proponent of a living wage ordinance for big-box retailers. At the time, the Moore campaign highighted a donation Herro made to the Swift Boat Vets, a political group that smeared Sen. John Kerry's military record during the 2004 presidential campaign.