Braun, Walls Spar Over Ethics, Ties To Harold Washington

CHICAGO (CBS) — When Rahm Emanuel and Gery Chico took a pass on a mayoral forum Saturday at a Chatham church, fellow candidates Carol Moseley Braun and Miguel del Valle took notice.

Moseley Braun alluded several times during the 90-minute forum to the empty chairs set aside for Emanuel and Chico at the Carter Temple CME Church, 7841 S. Wabash Av., then said at the end that it’s everyone else versus the Big Two in the contest for mayor.

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“It’s called a Machine,” Moseley-Braun said, noting that Emanuel has raised at least $18 million for his bid and that Chico is not far behind in terms of fund-raising. “It’s very important that they be held to account for the fact that they are not here.”

“This is an opportunity of a lifetime, and let’s take full advantage of it,” del Valle said. “My hope and my desire is that between all of us, we will be able to force a runoff. We cannot let this election be decided by the millions of dollars that are going to be spent to get somebody elected February 22.”

But Emanuel said he was busy meeting with shoppers at a Target store on the South Side and discussing the concerns of African-American ministers at a West Loop restaurant.

“My view is that it’s not a question of forums, it’s a question of what format,” Emanuel said, referring to his meeting with shoppers as a “Target Town Hall.”

Besides, he said, all four appeared jointly before the Tribune’s editorial board just 24 hours earlier.

And even though Braun, del Valle and candidates William “Dock” Walls and Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins agreed more than they disagreed on issues such as education, corruption in government, crime, the inadvisability of seeking assistance from the National Guard to fight crime and even the right to possess guns in Chicago homes and businesses, that did not mean there was no bad blood among them.

Braun and Walls became increasingly testy with one another, and it turned into a shouting match as the forum concluded.

“You got run out of town. You got run out of office for a lack of integrity. Integrity matters. Integrity is a absolute commitment to truth, veracity and fair play,” Walls said. “Your track record stands on its own. If you want to talk about integrity, don’t use yourself as a model.”

Braun took the bait, demanding the microphone one more time “as a point of personal privilege,” even though she had already given her closing statement.

“Shame on you, Dock Walls,” said Moseley-Braun, who said various ethics accusations made against her during her tenure in the Senate were a “smear” and disproved, and said that when she sought re-election to the U.S. Senate, she carried every ward in the city of Chicago.

“I was around when Harold Washington was mayor and I was his floor leader,” Braun said, referring to her time in the legislature. “I was his spokesman. And all I remember you doing is holding the door for him.”

Walls said he did much more, including forging relationships with aldermen for the newly-elected Washington administration and helping Washington reorganize city departments.

“We can take the high road or we can take the low road and you cannot survive if we take the low road in this campaign,” Walls told Braun. “Get your facts together and know what you’re talking about.”