CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Wednesday accused Uber of offering tens of millions of dollars to ministers to get them to bash her proposed rideshare tax.
The mayor also promised to give names.
CBS 2 Political Investigator Dana Kozlov dug into the accusations Wednesday.
Lightfoot made the claim about Uber offering to pay off the group of ministers after a City Council meeting Wednesday.
“Is this the one where they’re paying off black ministers by $54 million – that one? Or is this a new one?” Lightfoot said.
Lightfoot made the comment after she was asked about Uber’s alternative rideshare tax plan. The comment was met with stunned silence, and the mayor’s claim quickly overshadowed any talk of Uber’s actual proposal.
“They offered up black ministers $54 million – a one-time deal – if they would convince the mayor to do away with any other kind of regulation,” Lightfoot said. “As we walked these ministers through the realities of what’s actually at stake here, I think they realized that, frankly, they’d been hoodwinked.”
Hiking fees on Uber and Lyft rides in busier parts of the city at during certain times of day is part of Mayor Lightfoot’s budget plan. It is projected to raise $40 million.
Uber immediately came out against that plan and offered its own. And then last week, 34 black ministers sent a letter to the mayor – saying her plan would further hurt the city’s underserved black and brown communities and asking that cabs get taxed too.
Uber is asking the same, while touting that its alternative plan would raise even more revenue.
An Uber representative said the payoff claim is incorrect, adding in a statement: “The mayor is entitled to her own opinion, but not her own facts. Weeks ago, we shared a proposal that would have raised $54 million more for the city – she is confusing this figure.”
But Lightfoot said the ministers had told her personally that Uber had offered them a payoff.
“I’ve had a number of ministers who’ve met with us and said, ‘Uber promises $54 million, basically, if we back off,” Lightfoot said, “and I’m happy to provide names.”
The Mayor’s office has not yet provided that list of names, but CBS 2 reached out to all of the 34 ministers who signed the letter to the mayor. Two ministers told Kozlov that no money was offered.
Meanwhile, Kozlov obtained a letter that Uber sent to City Hall on Wednesday, expressing disappointment that “the mayor chose to make false claims.”