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Chicago mayor criticized for soliciting public school students to campaign for 'extra credit'

Lightfoot's campaign reportedly sent an email to CPS teachers offering extra credit for "young people eager to help Lightfoot win this spring."

Published: January 12, 2023 3:10pm

Updated: January 12, 2023 11:48pm

(The Center Square) -

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is drawing criticism over leaked emails of her campaign asking public school students for help on her campaign in exchange for "extra credit."

Lightfoot, who is running for re-election, faces several challengers in next month's primary. Challengers are highlighting an email to Chicago Public School teachers Lightfoot's campaign reportedly sent offering extra credit for "young people eager to help Lightfoot win this spring." The email was first obtained by WTTW and was sent to Chicago Public School teachers.

"As the race heats up, we're looking to enrich our office through what we call our externship program. Could you please share this opportunity with your students?" the Lightfoot email reads. "Lightfoot for Chicago is seeking resumes from any volunteer interested in campaign politics and eager to gain experience in the field."

Last week, Lightfoot and several other candidates spoke at an Access Living forum focused on individuals with disabilities. At the event, Lightfoot spoke about her strong morals.

"I don't have to just talk to you about a value system," Lightfoot said. "I can talk to you about the concrete, tangible things that we have done."

As the mayor of Chicago, Lightfoot has control over appointing members to the Chicago Public School Board, which has led her challengers to question her ethics.

Paul Vallas, former CEO of Chicago Public Schools, released a statement that said the people of Chicago deserve answers related to Lightfoot's emails.

"While I believe that an independent joint investigation by the city and CPS Inspectors General is the best way to get to the bottom of this scandal, Chicago voters deserve to hear answers to these questions and more directly from Mayor Lightfoot herself right now," said Vallas. "Public service is a public trust, and we need to demand accountability and transparency from Mayor Lightfoot now to ensure that the integrity of our city government is not further compromised."

Candidate Brandon Johnson also released a statement on his Twitter account showing the irony in Lightfoot's email requests.

"Last summer, Mayor Lightfoot tried to fire two George Washington HS teachers for engaging students around the fight for environmental justice in their own SE Side community, yet here she is using CPS channels to solicit volunteers for her reelection campaign," Johnson wrote on Twitter.

The ACLU and CPS have both opened up investigations into the emails.

The Chicago mayoral primary election will be held on Feb. 28.

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