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Jim and Wendy Abrams attend a 2012 event for Waterkeeper Alliance./photo courtesy Annie Watt 0

High-profile Chicago couple–and Bob Dylan–pop up in WikiLeaks

October 16th, 2016

Along with revealing the inner workings of a presidential campaign, hacked emails recently released by WikiLeaks offer some insight into how Chicago’s elite operate.

Emails from Wendy Abrams, a Chicago-area nonprofit leader, and her husband, Medline Industries COO Jim Abrams, have popped up from the cascade of correspondence with John Podesta, chairman of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

In an email dated March 5, 2016, to Podesta, Wendy Abrams wrote:

“Hope you are doing well. (Congrats on Super Tuesday!) I have an idea for a Hillary fundraiser… we live across the street from Ravinia Festival (not sure if you went there growing up in Chicago, but it’s a beautiful outdoor concert venue.) A few years ago, Crosby, Stills & Nash were on the schedule and knowing that they are big environmentalists, I reached out to them and asked if they would come over to my house for a reception to benefit Waterkeepers. They came over … and we raised six figures for Waterkeepers.

“The schedule just came out for this year, and Bob Dylan is playing on June 24th. I know we would get a lot of enthusiasm for a similar event, the proceeds going to Hillary’s campaign. The nice thing is that Dylan literally has to go across the street (we will obviously have him driven from the stage door to my house- Jimmy is on the board of Ravinia so he works closely with everyone there) My property is really private, from a security perspective. We are not asking him to sing, perhaps he’d just say a few words about social activism and speaking out for what you believe in.

“Let me know if you like the idea and I’d be delighted to host. (and if we can’t get Dylan, we should talk about other surrogates to host.. I’d really like to do something.) xo w”

In a separate email from May 2015, Jim Abrams offers the family’s Montana ranch for a Clinton fund-raiser, saying, “we’ll fish and raft and hike.”

The couple declined to comment.

The Abrams are deeply rooted in Chicago’s business, civic and political scenes.  Medline is a fourth generation, family-owned medical equipment manufacturer. The Mills family has made headlines for selling the vacant Michael Reese Hospital to the city as part of its failed efforts to get the Olympics.

The home that Wendy Abrams refers to in her email to Podesta is the home previously owned by Michael Segal, the insurance executive imprisoned eight years on charges he looted his company.

And her reference to Waterkeeper is in regard to Waterkeeper Alliance, which works to protect the world’s waterways. Abrams is a trustee. Chicago folks may also know Abrams for her work creating the “Cool Globes: Hot Ideas for a Cooler Planet” outdoor art project that showcased 120 globes along the waterfront in 2007.

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