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Defeated Chicago mayoral candidate accuses campaign consultant of fraud

Paul Vallas claims a Chicago political operative charged him $700,000 for services that were never delivered.

CHICAGO (CN) — The Windy City's mayoral race is over, but its political fallout is just beginning.

Late Thursday night, defeated mayoral candidate Paul Vallas filed a fraud suit against a local political operative named Chimaobi Enyia who allegedly swindled the conservative Democrat's mayoral campaign out of $700,000.

Vallas claims Enyia, once an aide to former Democratic Illinois Governor Pat Quinn and currently the executive vice president for Cresco Labs' social equity initiative SEED, told Vallas he had pull among Chicago's Black community leaders. According to the suit, which was made publicly available on Friday, Enyia approached Vallas in January and offered to help him network with those community leaders at a rate of $40,000 per month.

The only white candidate in the running, Vallas struggled to attract Black voters throughout the mayoral race. The suit claims Vallas accepted Enyia's offer, but only after negotiating his consulting fee down to $20,000 between March and April. Vallas would still lose an overwhelming majority of the city's Black neighborhoods to his victorious Black opponent Brandon Johnson in the April 4 run-off election, and the suit alleges Enyia did little to change those neighborhoods' perception of Vallas after pocketing his campaign's money.

The complaint claims that Enyia, besides getting his $20,000 fee, sent Vallas' campaign manager Brian Towne and a campaign budget worker named Peter Jeon several invoices over the campaign that equaled $680,000. The payments were to be made by the Vallas for Mayor campaign to Enyia's personal company Ikoro LLC, which Enyia said was hiring workers to campaign for Vallas across Chicago's Black neighborhoods.

When Towne and Jeon balked at the steep invoices in March, the suit alleges, Enyia threatened to have his workers defect and begin working for the Johnson campaign if they didn't pay. It was a moot point, Vallas goes on to claim, as Ikoro workers never performed $200,000 worth of campaign services anyway.

"Chima and/or Ikoro did not contract or pay workers whose services would total the $200,000 represented in Ikoro’s Invoice... to campaign for Vallas for Mayor to work in Chicago’s Black communities," the complaint states. "Chima and/or Ikoro did not render 'Consulting Services' totaling $200,000 represented in Chima’s April 2, 2023 email to Jeon and Ikoro’s Invoice... to Vallas for Mayor."

Enyia also said that Ikoro had paid a community group known as Black Men United $200,000 to place Vallas campaign signs in Black neighborhoods, and to remove those signs that had been tagged with MAGA graffiti - a common criticism of Vallas being his ties to national Republican figures.

Vallas claimed in the suit that not only did he not approve of paying Black Men United to do the signage work, Enyia never actually had the group do the work in the first place.

"From March 15 to April 3, 2023, Chima would call Towne stating that he was paying hundreds of people on the streets to remove the Vallas for Mayor signs that had been vandalized and unauthorized MAGA signs containing the name Vallas for Mayor that had been placed in Black communities, when in fact in was only Chima himself removing the signs," the suit claims, adding later that "Vallas contacted Black Men United [on April 11] and learned that Chima and Ikoro had not paid Black Men United $200,000."

Black Men United did not return a request for comment to clarify the issue.

Vallas is now asking the court to force Enyia and Ikoro to return the $680,000 they received from Vallas mayoral campaign, as well as Enyia's personal $20,000 consulting fee. Courthouse News could not reach Enyia himself for comment.

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Categories / Government, Politics, Regional

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