• Michael McDevitt
    FEB 08, 2023

    DoorDash pours tens of thousands into Chicago municipal election campaigns, outspending similar apps

    A DoorDash delivery bag sits on a scooter [Courtesy photo]

    The company behind one of the country’s largest food delivery apps has poured tens of thousands of dollars into Chicago’s municipal races to back incumbents and challengers alike at the same time as city lawmakers mull reforms which could give more power to drivers. 

    Most of the company’s large donations, ranging between $2,500 and $10,000 contributions, have been made in City Council races that are or were contested before successful petition challenges kicked candidates off the ballot, though some candidates running unopposed also received large donations. 

    The San Francisco-based DoorDash, Inc. has contributed more than $90,000 to aldermanic candidates in the upcoming Feb. 28 election, campaign finance filings show. The mayor’s seat and all 50 City Council seats are up for election this year, though a number of aldermen are running unopposed. 

    Related: Ald. Jason Ervin joins the ranks of incumbent aldermen who won’t face challengers in February election 

    And though DoorDash has not contributed to any of the campaign accounts for mayoral candidates, the company has recently donated to the state legislative campaign chest of a state lawmaker running for Chicago mayor.  

    In a statement, DoorDash answered questions about how it chose the candidates it has financially backed by saying the company works closely with both policymakers and stakeholders in Chicago on myriad issues ranging from protecting independent work to empowering local businesses. The company called its donations one part of how it engages with local policymakers to affect positive change. 

    Since the fall, DoorDash has donated to at least nine sitting aldermen who are seeking reelection. Ald. Timmy Knudsen (43), Ald. Emma Mitts (37), who chairs the Committee on License and Consumer Protection, and Ald. Nicole Lee (11) each received $10,000 in donations from the meal-delivery giant in the past three months. Ald. Walter Burnett, Jr. (27), who chairs the Committee on Pedestrian and Traffic Safety, has received $6,000 from DoorDash since December. Ald. Brian Hopkins (2), Ald. Samantha Nugent (39) and Ald. Matt O’Shea (19), who chairs the Committee on Aviation, each received $5,000 donations from DoorDash since the fall. 

    In December, DoorDash contributed $5,000 to the 28th Ward Democratic Organization, chaired by Ald. Jason Ervin (28) — who is running unopposed after his challengers were removed from the ballot. Ervin is chair of the Aldermanic Black Caucus and the Committee on Contracting Oversight and Equity. In January, the company donated $5,000 to the 8th Ward Regular Democratic Organization, chaired by Ald. Michelle Harris (8), who chairs the Committee on Committees and Rules.

    DoorDash has also donated to several aldermanic challengers since candidates filed petitions to get on the ballot at the end of November.  

    Bennett Lawson, who is chief of staff for outgoing Ald. Tom Tunney (44) and running unopposed to replace him after his challenger was knocked off the ballot in January, received $10,000 from the company in December. Bill Conway, a former Cook County assistant state’s attorney running in the two-way, open 34th Ward race, received $10,000 from DoorDash in December, and Kimberly Walz, a Walgreens representative, political consultant and former aide to U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley running in the six-way race to succeed outgoing Ald. James Cappleman (46), also received $10,000 from the company in December.

    Additionally, state Rep. Lamont Robinson Jr. (D-Chicago), who is running in the crowded field to replace Ald. Sophia King (4) as she runs for mayor, received a $2,500 donation from DoorDash in December to his state representative campaign committee.

    Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza (10), who is retiring at the end of her current term, introduced an ordinance (O2023-239) in January which would give drivers for rideshare and food delivery apps like Uber, Lyft, GrubHub and DoorDash the right to appeal deactivations in response to concerns drivers have been deactivated over false allegations from irritated customers.

    Sadlowski Garza’s proposed ordinance was introduced Jan. 18. DoorDash’s litany of large campaign contributions were mostly made in November and December. The company has not donated to any of the five candidates running in the 10th Ward to replace Sadlowski Garza. 

    In 2021, Ald. Scott Waguespack (32) proposed legislation (O2021-1644) to regulate delivery fees and other fees charged by third-party delivery apps such as DoorDash and GrubHub, but the ordinance was referred to the City Council Committee on License and Consumer Protection, chaired by Mitts and vice-chaired by Hopkins, and has had no further action. 

    Neither Uber, Lyft, GoPuff nor Grubhub have made similarly large donations to any municipal candidates or put nearly as much money into the 2023 races as DoorDash.  

    Grubhub has donated $1,000 each to Mitts, O’Shea and Ervin and $500 each to Lee, Walz and Ald. Monique Scott (24) since January 2022.  

    Lyft, meanwhile, has donated $1,500 to support the reelections of Mitts, Scott, Burnett, Ald. Maria Hadden (49), Ald. Andre Vasquez (40), Ald. Daniel La Spata (1), Ald. Michael Rodriguez (22), Ald. Matt Martin (47) and Ald. Felix Cardona Jr. (31).  

    Since January 2022, GoPuff parent company GoBrands, Inc. has donated at least $1,500 each to Ervin, Burnett, Hopkins and Ald. Gilbert Villegas (36) and $1,000 each to Hadden, Waguespack, Ald. Brendan Reilly (42), Ald. Debra Silverstein (50), Ald. Anthony Napolitano (41) and Ald. Pat Dowell (3).  

    The aldermanic campaigns that responded to questions from The Daily Line about the DoorDash donations — Conway’s, Nugent’s, O’Shea’s and Robinson’s — said they would not affect how the candidates would govern if elected. The campaigns for Lee, Mitts, Knudsen, Lawson, Hopkins, Ervin, Harris, Burnett and Walz were unable to be reached to comment on the donations by publication time. 

    While DoorDash has made contributions in the past to Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s political action committee, Light PAC, the company hasn’t contributed to her PAC since December 2020. Since October, DoorDash has given $11,000 total over two donations to state Rep. Kam Buckner’s (D-Chicago) state representative campaign committee. Buckner announced his run for mayor last May.  

    He is the only mayoral candidate the company has donated to in the last three months. 

    Related: Lightfoot’s PAC rakes in cash from unions and delivery apps, shells out for aldermen who supported 2021 budget 

    Buckner’s campaign noted the donations from DoorDash were not made to the state lawmaker’s mayoral campaign committee.  

    “Kam has been public about his commitment to fairness and parity for ride share and delivery drivers and that he would support a city council ordinance that addresses driver protection, minimum rates and a fairer infraction and deactivation process for drivers,” a spokesperson told The Daily Line. 

    Still, since October Buckner has transferred at least $116,500 from his state representative campaign committee to his mayoral committee, filings show. 

    While DoorDash has donated to numerous other members of the Illinois General Assembly, a $10,000 donation to Buckner’s state representative campaign chest in December is the largest single DoorDash donation to a member of the General Assembly since January 2022, campaign finance records show. 

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    • James Glynn
      commented 2023-02-08 12:02:45 -0600
      Great example of the definition of the term Ways and Means from https://www.thedailyline.com/michaelmcdevitt. DoorDash is providing the means “to affect positive change.” The question is: will these means pay for the ways that will ensure that the City Council does not give “more power” to food delivery drivers?