Preckwinkle, Mendoza fight over petitions and donations

CHICAGO — Two Chicago mayoral candidates, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Illinois Comptroller Susana Mendoza, continued to spar Friday over ballot signatures and past campaign donations.

Following a Chicago Board of Elections ruling Friday, Preckwinkle’s bid to knock Mendoza off the mayoral ballot will continue.

Mendoza’s team pushed to dismiss the challenge, but a hearing officer asked for more information about possible duplicate signatures and incorrect page numbers.

“The best case scenario is that only qualified candidates are allowed to participate in this election,” Preckwinkle campaign attorney Keri-Lyn Krafthefer said.

In a positive development for Mendoza, the hearing officer struck down the Preckwinkle campaign’s claim of a pattern of fraud.

“There’s absolutely no pattern of fraud,” Mendoza campaign attorney Tony Jacob said. “There’s no fraud allegation at all.”

To get on the ballot, Mendoza needs 12,500 valid signatures. Preckwinkle’s camp challenged more than 14,000 of Mendoza’s signatures. If those are found to be invalid, Preckwinkle’s lawyer said, it would leave Mendoza with just 10,400 signatures — not enough to compete.

Mendoza, during an unrelated public appearance Friday, went after Preckwinkle for targeting mayoral hopefuls.

“What I am calling on President Preckwinkle to do today is withdraw her challenge of the other four women of color in this race,” Mendoza said. “It’s shameful. She shouldn’t have done it.”

A union backing Preckwinkle went on the attack Friday — insisting Mendoza return a $1,000 donation from Richard Simon, an ally of Ald. Ed Burke, whose office was recently raided by the FBI. The union claims it warned Mendoza about Simon’s alleged mob connections and urged her to return the 2016 donation.

Mendoza’s campaign said she will return the donation.