WBEZ | Laura Ricketts http://www.wbez.org/tags/laura-ricketts Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Advocates work all angles to woo GOP on gay marriage http://www.wbez.org/news/advocates-work-all-angles-woo-gop-gay-marriage-108750 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Equality illinois fundraiser - Alex Keefe WBEZ.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>As Illinois&rsquo; gay marriage advocates race to shore up support before next month&rsquo;s legislative session, they&rsquo;ve began courting votes from an unlikely quarter: Illinois House Republicans.</p><p>It&rsquo;s unclear exactly how many in the GOP may buck their party&rsquo;s platform and vote for same sex marriage if the bill is called for a vote when lawmakers return to Springfield at the end of October.</p><p>Leading advocates say privately it could be just a handful of representatives, and they&rsquo;re focusing on those they think could be persuaded, or who are retiring.</p><p>But that uncertainty hasn&rsquo;t stopped a coalition of pro-gay marriage groups from launching a concerted effort aimed at winning over Republicans. The groups are carpet bombing some GOP districts with constituent phone banks, and they&rsquo;re hoping big-name donors, business leaders and prominent Republicans will also lean on lawmakers behind the scenes.</p><p><a href="http://www.illinoisunites.org/">Illinois Unites for Marriage</a>, which comprises more than 60 groups, is targeting House lawmakers in 40 districts, 16 of them held by Republicans.</p><p>Advocates are also offering help with fundraising, to demonstrate that Republicans who vote &ldquo;yes&rdquo; on gay marriage could get some campaign cash to protect them if their position leads to a challenge in next year&rsquo;s primary.</p><p><strong>&lsquo;You gotta have money&rsquo;</strong></p><p>The political odd-couple relationship was on full display at an after-work fundraiser on a rainy night last week at P.J. Clarke&rsquo;s, a bar in Chicago&rsquo;s Gold Coast neighborhood.</p><p><a href="http://www.eqil.org/">Equality Illinois</a>, a Chicago-based gay rights group, invited their would-be donors to sip beer and hobnob with the three Republicans in the General Assembly who are publicly bucking their party&rsquo;s platform and supporting same-sex marriage.</p><p>&ldquo;If I do have a primary, which I think is going to happen, you gotta have money to get your message out,&rdquo; said State Rep. Ron Sandack, from Downers Grove. &ldquo;This does that. This helps in that endeavor. There&rsquo;s just no doubt about it.&rdquo;</p><p>Also there was Illinois State Sen. Jason Barickman, from downstate Bloomington, who cast the lone Republican &ldquo;yes&rdquo; vote for gay marriage when it passed the Senate this year on Valentine&rsquo;s Day. The Illinois House adjourned in May without calling the measure for a vote, but Sandack and fellow GOP State Rep Ed Sullivan, Jr., of Mundelein, have pledged their support if it does.</p><p>Equality Illinois is hoping to raise enough money to give at least $5,000 to each candidate, said Jeremy Gottschalk, who heads up Equality Illinois&rsquo; political fundraising arm. The political action committee has already donated that much to <a href="http://www.elections.il.gov/CampaignDisclosure/A1List.aspx?ID=23792&amp;FiledDocID=503467&amp;ContributionType=AllTypes&amp;Archived=True">Sandack</a> and <a href="http://www.elections.il.gov/CampaignDisclosure/A1List.aspx?ID=16334&amp;FiledDocID=503031&amp;ContributionType=AllTypes&amp;Archived=True">Sullivan</a>, and they&rsquo;ve also received money from big-name pro-gay marriage donors such as Laura Ricketts, co-owner of the Chicago Cubs, and billionaire Paul Singer, who was integral in <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/26/nyregion/the-road-to-gay-marriage-in-new-york.html?pagewanted=all&amp;_r=0">bankrolling</a> a gay marriage bill in New York.</p><p>At last week&rsquo;s fundraiser, all three lawmakers made arguments to the crowd that seemed more geared toward their Republican colleagues.</p><p>&ldquo;If you believe in the conservative philosophy of pro-family, of freedoms, this is the vote. This is the day,&rdquo; Sullivan told the group of potential donors. &ldquo;And it&rsquo;s unfortunate we don&rsquo;t have more with us. We will. We&rsquo;re working on it.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Building pressure from constituents, big names</strong></p><p>But advocates are also hoping to build pressure from the grassroots level.</p><p>One night last week, about 10 volunteers with Illinois Unites for Marriage gathered over pizza and soda to make phone calls from the community room of a church in west suburban Clarendon Hills.</p><p>The target on this night was GOP State Rep. Sandi Pihos, and the goal was to get constituents to flood her voicemail box with messages supporting gay marriage.</p><p>Martin McAlpin, one of 20 organizers stationed around the state, acknowledges it can be an uphill climb to build support for gay marriage in this traditionally Republican enclave of the western suburbs.</p><p>&ldquo;Wheaton and Glen Ellyn are conservative strongholds, but this is not gonna pass without Republican votes,&rdquo; McAlpin said.</p><p>Pihos later told WBEZ she&rsquo;s still a solid &ldquo;no&rdquo; vote on gay marriage, citing &ldquo;overwhelming&rdquo; opposition to the bill in her district, despite the phone banking. McAlpin has also been targeting Republican State Rep. Patricia Bellock, of Westmont, who did not return phone calls from WBEZ.</p><p>Organizers declined to say exactly which other Republicans they hope to win over.</p><p>But advocates have also recruited prominent business leaders and donors in hopes of pressuring lawmakers behind the scenes. They&rsquo;ve released <a href="http://www.eqil.org/cmsdocuments/Business_Case_for_Marriage_EQIL.pdf">pamphlets</a> arguing gay marriage could boost the wedding industry and attract new talent to the state, and they cast their cause in the frame of limited government.</p><p>The American Civil Liberties Union even recently <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/aclu-hires-former-il-gop-head-pat-brady-lobby-gay-marriage-108537">hired</a> the former head of the state GOP, Pat Brady, to win Republican votes.</p><h2 dir="ltr"><strong>Timing is everything</strong></h2><p>But Brady and other lobbyists for same-sex marriage acknowledge there&rsquo;s one big potential obstacle to winning over Republicans by next month&rsquo;s veto session: Illinois&rsquo; political calendar.</p><p>GOP lawmakers won&rsquo;t officially know whether they&rsquo;ll face a primary challenge until ballot petitions are filed Nov. 25, more than two weeks after the legislative session is over.</p><p>&ldquo;And that&rsquo;s a real concern, the fact that these folks who are leaning toward voting for it because they believe it&rsquo;s the right thing to do might catch a primary,&rdquo; Brady said. &ldquo;So the timing of the veto session ... could be problematic.&rdquo;</p><p>Meanwhile, supporters of same-sex marriage aren&rsquo;t the only ones gearing up for a fight.</p><p>Chris Plante is with the National Organization for Marriage, which has been doing its own lobbying against the gay marriage bill in preparation for next month&rsquo;s veto session.</p><p>Plante&rsquo;s group is vowing to help defeat lawmakers who vote in favor of same-sex marriage - especially Republicans.</p><p>&ldquo;[Voters] will not stand for candidates, or for representatives who betray their constituency, who do not vote their values,&rdquo; Plante said. &ldquo;And so the consequence will be that they will lose their seat.&rdquo;</p><p>Plante wouldn&rsquo;t say how much money his group planned to drop in Illinois, acknowledging they&rsquo;ll likely be outspent by proponents of same sex marriage. But he said he is coordinating with the conservative <a href="http://illinoisfamily.org/">Illinois Family Institute</a>, and the <a href="http://illinoisfamily.org/">African American Clergy Coalition</a>, both of which have been trying to appeal to religious lawmakers and some black Democrats.</p><p>Meanwhile, Republicans who have already come out supporting gay marriage, like Rep. Sandack, say the opposition doesn&rsquo;t worry them.</p><p>&ldquo;I have no fear about that,&rdquo; Sandack said. &ldquo;It doesn&rsquo;t cause me any pause. That&rsquo;s part of the process. I signed up for it. If that&rsquo;s what they wanna do, Godspeed.&rdquo;</p><p><em>Alex Keefe covers politics for WBEZ. Follow him <a href="https://twitter.com/akeefe">@akeefe</a>.</em></p></p> Tue, 24 Sep 2013 11:04:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/advocates-work-all-angles-woo-gop-gay-marriage-108750 Laura Ricketts talks family politics, Cubs http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-07/laura-ricketts-talks-family-politics-cubs-100980 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><div class="image-insert-image "><img a="" alt="" ap="" at="" ball="" charles="" class="image-original_image" during="" field.="" game="" me="" out="" rex="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/AP100412025726.jpg" style="height: 292px; width: 300px; float: left;" take="" the="" title="Laura Ricketts, second from left, with her family members singing " to="" wrigley="" /></div></div><p>To say that Cubs co-owner Laura Ricketts comes from a family of strong political convictions is a profound understatement. All of the Ricketts men have given large sums of money to conservative causes. Family patriarch Joe Ricketts recently courted controversy when he considered spending&nbsp;<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/17/us/politics/gop-super-pac-weighs-hard-line-attack-on-obama.html?_r=2&amp;pagewanted=2&amp;hp&amp;pagewanted=all" target="_blank">$10 million on an ad campaign</a> painting President Barack Obama as a metrosexual with links to controversial pastor Jeremiah Wright. Her one brother, Peter, ran for Nebraska&rsquo;s U.S. Senate seat as a Republican and lost to incumbent Ben Nelson.</p><p>Laura is just as involved, but politically speaking, roots for the opposing team. She bundles for Obama, is openly gay and supports same-sex marriage. In a 2010 interview with the <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2010-10-17/features/ct-mag-gay-chicago-ricketts-story_1_todd-ricketts-laura-ricketts-legalization" target="_blank"><em>Tribune</em></a>, she said she decided to fight for LGBT issues after the reelection of George W. Bush in 2004, an election cycle in which 11 states had ballot initiatives to ban gay marriage.</p><p>Laura Ricketts joined&nbsp;<em>Eight Forty-Eight</em>&nbsp;Wednesday to discuss <a href="http://www.teamlpac.com/" target="_blank">LPAC</a>, the new lesbian Super PAC she created with Chicago businesswoman Sarah Schmidt. According to the LPAC website, the group aims to be a mainstream voice in politics that supports causes including LGBT rights, women&rsquo;s access to health care, reproductive freedom and economic justice.</p><p>Speaking more about her political epiphany, Ricketts says she was watching former President George W. Bush give a State of the Union address, and heard him say something&nbsp;about a constitutional amendment to protect marriage. &ldquo;I about fell off the sofa. I knew I had to get more involved and engaged in LGBT rights, equality, civil rights work and politics as well.&rdquo;</p><p>Ricketts was out to some family members at the time, but that was the moment when she realized, &ldquo;I really need to be honest and open about who I am.&rdquo;</p><p>Some are skeptical that her family could be so supportive of her, given their conservative beliefs, but she says they shouldn&rsquo;t be.</p><p>&ldquo;When I came out to my parents&hellip; I didn&rsquo;t know how [they] would react,&quot; she said. &quot;They&rsquo;re very conservative. But they&rsquo;re also very supportive people. And my dad said,&nbsp;you always hold your head up high and be proud of who you are, cause I am. You&#39;re a leader. Get involved.&quot;</p><p>&ldquo;Each of our political engagement is really driven by deep passion and belief in what is right for this country....A lot of people say to me, how can you get along?...[But] I don&rsquo;t think we&rsquo;re different from any other family, people just pay a little more attention to what we do.&rdquo;</p><p>Ricketts also commented on her more recent activism. &ldquo;I&rsquo;m a lawyer, or recovering lawyer&hellip;and I happened to come across LAMDA legal, which does a lot of LGBT, civil rights and HIV litigation and public policy work, and it just seemed to really ring true to me,&rdquo; she said. She started doing support work for the organization, and it paved the way for her involvement in LPAC.</p><p>&ldquo;Being a woman and being gay in our society, you have a couple of pretty big challenges&hellip;[so] it&rsquo;s really important that more women get engaged. I feel like the more women we have in government, the better our government will be,&quot; Ricketts said. &quot;Woman aren&rsquo;t as likely to get engaged, aren&rsquo;t as likely to organize. [They&rsquo;re more likely to do] so when it&rsquo;s women-centric and lesbian focused.&quot;</p><p>Ricketts says that though LPAC has gotten lots of support from PAC&#39;s with similar goals like Emily&rsquo;s List and Lesbian Victory Fund, their work is slightly different. And though their goal of raising $1 million might seem small, it&#39;s not necessarily all about the money.</p><p>&ldquo;We wanted to set realistic goals,&quot; she explained. &quot;This is an entirely new arena. We have no idea what to expect.&quot;</p><p>&quot;I think in terms of meeting that goal, we&rsquo;re really hoping that, yes, there will be a number of women giving significant contributions. [But] this is not only to raise money and have a voice for lesbians but also to get more lesbians to get engaged in the process.&quot;</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t like how much money is going into politics. This election is like the wild west. With so much money floating around, I have to think it can&rsquo;t be good for our political process. But that being said, those are the rules. And we have to play by the rules.&rdquo;</p><p>Ricketts also commented on <a href="http://www.suntimes.com/news/politics/12593671-418/rahm-blasts-plan-to-attack-obama-by-super-pac-linked-to-rickettses.html">the recent controversy surrounding</a> the possibility of a revamp for Wrigley Field. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s unfortunate the Cubs have been pulled into the political work that all of my family members do. [But] something needs to be done to preserve and make sure [Wrigley] lasts another 100 years.&rdquo;</p><p>&ldquo;Everyone agrees that Wrigley and the Cubs should be treated fairly and equally. But these are very tough times,&quot; she explained.</p><p>&ldquo;My brothers and I all feel a great responsibility that are stewards of this great franchise that means a great deal to history and to the city of Chicago,&rdquo; she said. But Ricketts thinks that her responsibility might be even greater, as the first out lesbian owner of a Major League Baseball team. &ldquo;As the owner of the cubs, as a woman, as an out lesbian, I&rsquo;m in a unique position.&rdquo;</p></p> Wed, 18 Jul 2012 08:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/bez/2012-07/laura-ricketts-talks-family-politics-cubs-100980 Twenty-one Illinoisans on Obama 'bundler' list http://www.wbez.org/story/twenty-one-illinoisans-obama-bundler-list-89271 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-17/obama navy pier.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>About twenty Illinois residents have made the list of big campaign fundraisers for President Obama's re-election effort.</p><p>The Obama campaign late last week released a <a href="http://www.barackobama.com/pages/volunteer-fundraisers-Q2">list</a> of about 250 people they're calling "volunteer fundraisers." The more common name for these big ticket supporters, though, is "bundlers." They each raised more than $50,000 for the campaign by getting their friends to give, too.</p><p>The list includes the chairman and CEO of ComEd, Frank Clark, and a co-owner of the Chicago Cubs, Laura Ricketts. Also highlighted: Penny Pritzker, who led Mr. Obama's 2008 fundraising committee, and Michael Sacks, an investment banker who last week was appointed to help lead a business commission by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.</p><p>Emanuel, a recent White House chief of staff, didn't himself donate to his old boss, or make the list of big bundlers. But his brother, Hollywood agent Ari Emanuel, did.</p><p>All told, the president raised some $86 million since beginning his fundraising drive in April. That's when he visited Chicago for an evening of back-to-back-to-back events.</p></p> Mon, 18 Jul 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/twenty-one-illinoisans-obama-bundler-list-89271