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Secretive Organization Paying Tab For Emanuel's Trip To Rome

(CBS) -- A large delegation of Chicago luminaries -- including business executives, educators, and politicians -- are making their way to Rome for the elevation of Archbishop Blase Cupich to cardinal.

Most are paying out of pocket. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is not.

So, who's footing his bill and how much is it costing?

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CBS 2 Political Reporter Derrick Blakley has the answers.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner and his wife; Chicago Ald. Ed Burke and his wife, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke; Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson; and Chicago Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago are all paying their own way to Rome.

But Emanuel and his wife and several City Hall staffers are not traveling on their own dime.

"This is a trip of World Business Chicago. No taxpayer money," the mayor said Wednesday.

World Business Chicago is a highly secretive agency that promotes Chicago commerce and industry. It reports directly to the mayor.

It is so secretive, CBS 2 cameras weren't even allowed to visit its offices in the Page Building, next to the Chicago Theatre.

In 2015, WBC spent $8.7 million, mostly private money, but it also received $1.2 million in city taxes. Again, Emanuel says no public money is paying for his trip.

"There's co-mingled money and you can't really tell, so that's something we should be concerned about," 32nd Ward Ald. Scott Waguespack says.

WBC paid to host the Chicago visits of the Italian prime minister and London's mayor. Emanuel says the Rome trip is a moment all Chicago should applaud.

"In a time where voices of intolerance are becoming accepted, we have a cardinal who speaks to tolerance," Emanuel said.

The mayor wasn't happy about CBS 2's attempts to follow the money.

"They raised it privately," he said. He declined to discuss the matter in detail.

WBC says they're paying for a mayoral entourage of 14 in all. That includes the mayor, his wife, eight city officials, two high school students, and their two chaperones.

The organization did not offer information about the cost.

It's not entirely clear just how this trip fits in with the council's mission of promoting Chicago business.


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