Trump attorney’s deep Chicago connections; and Ryan hits town
May 6th, 2018
The D.C. attorney hired to represent President Trump is related to one of Chicago’s most connected families. Emmet Flood is one of the Floods. They’re the owners of Flood Brothers recycling company.
“He started working in the family business at 14 when it was a three-truck operation,” a family member tells me of Flood, who is one of 14 siblings. “After turning 18, he was a truck driver in the summers for five or six years–mostly West Side and North Side, including picking up garbage in CHA housing projects…Henry Horner Homes and Alba Homes.”
Flood’s uncle co-founded the business and his late father and numerous relatives continued to run it.
The company drew controversy in the 1990s–back when it was called C&S Recycling. In 1993, it sought a permit to build a waste transfer station on the West Side. At the time, city officials had come under fire for allowing illegal waste dumping by other companies in minority communities. So the city denied the permit, citing rodent infestation and traffic complaints, according to David Pellow’s book, “Garbage Wars: A study of the struggle for environmental justice, focusing on conflicts over solid waste and pollution in Chicago.”
C&S went on to change its name to Flood Brothers and “successfully pushed” to change zoning rules that would allow the station to be built legally.
There was outrage, of course, but the Floods continued to run their business and now are a force in Chicago politics. Over the years, they’ve donated to numerous political campaigns, including such power brokers as Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Aldermen Ed Burke and Patrick O’Connor.
To their credit, the Floods also donate to causes all over the city, including Fenwick High School, where Emmet Flood graduated.
He left the area after getting his diploma and would earn a bachelor’s degree from University of Dallas, a doctorate from University of Texas and a law degree from Yale.
Now a noted trial attorney, Flood is taking on the alleged interference by Russia in the 2016 election. He replaces Donald Trump’s friend, attorney Ty Cobb.
Where Cobb was seen as taking a passive approach to litigating, Flood is adversarial.
No surprise given his experience. Flood represented Bill Clinton during his impeachment process and then fought off investigations during the George W. Bush years. Flood even represented former Vice President Dick Cheney.
Most recently Flood worked for William & Connolly, a D.C. law firm that, interestingly, counted Hillary Clinton as a client.
Note: This story was updated to clarify that it was Flood’s uncle who was a co-founder.
SPEAKER RYAN HITS CHICAGO: Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, who’s avoided aligning himself much with President Trump, takes the stage with House Speaker Paul Ryan later this week in Chicago.
Ryan will headline the Kemp Forum on Expanding Opportunity on May 11. The event is focused on policy–not politics–and is supported by the Jack Kemp Foundation, a nonprofit named after the late Republican congressman from New York.
The event will include conversations about upward mobility and how to fight poverty.
Along with Rauner, other attendees include Democrat U.S. Reps. Danny Davis (a Democrat) and Peter Roskam (a Republican); and Chicago aldermen Gilbert Villegas (36th), Ricardo Muñoz (22nd) and Scott Waguespack.
The forum is personal for Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican who announced recently he wouldn’t seek re-election.
Ryan was a former intern, staffer and mentee of Kemp’s and for years has supported the Kemp Foundation. In March 2016, Ryan gave a moving tribute to Capitol Hill interns about what Kemp meant to him. Also that year, Ryan co-hosted the first Kemp Forum on Expanding Opportunity, which was attended by most of the Republican Presidential candidates. Donald Trump did not.
NO BS FROM THIS CEO: One of Chicago’s newest multi-millionaires headlined a fundraiser for Wolcott School, a college-prep high school designed for students with learning differences. And he got personal on stage.
Peter Rahal is founder of RXBar, a protein-bar maker that was acquired earlier this year by Kellogg for $600 million.
Rahal also is dyslexic.
“I grew up really thinking I was stupid,” he told a captivated crowd gathered in the school gym. “I remember hearing my mother asking a teacher ‘Is Peter slow?’ And the teacher said, ‘Yes, he needs help.’”
High school was hard. College was, too. And he struggled to find a job.
“If they were looking at grades, I wasn’t very attractive,” Rahal told the crowd gathered in the school’s new gym.
Rahal says was “ultimately saved” by his parents’ support and he focused on what he did well–a mantra of Wolcott school. He’s always been good at figuring out how to solve problems.
That led him to wonder why protein bars were full of so much “bad stuff–bs.”
With the help of Jerod Smith, a childhood friend who was good at finances, they built RXBar. They call their product “a protein bar without bad stuff (bs).”
“When you think of business, it’s a group of people making decisions to solve problems. It’s perfect for dyslexia,” he said. And he wrapped up by quoting Einstein. “A fish trying to climb a tree will live its whole life thinking it’s stupid. I couldn’t think of a better explanation help children trying to achieve their goals and their potential.”
The motivated crowd went on to raise nearly $1 million.
Notable attendees included real-estate mogul Fred Latsko, who was honored with the benefactor award (he’s given about $1.5 million to the school); Eric and Cheryl Whitaker, both civic leaders and medical doctors; former Chicago Public Schools CEO Forrest Claypool; lobbyist James Houlihan; Bolingbrook Mayor Roger Claar; caterer George Jewell and school founders Jennifer Levine and Jeff Aeder.
DIRECTOR WATCH: Linda Johnson Rice is a director at three public companies, including Tesla–which made headlines last week when founder Elon Musk called questions about company finances “boring.” Directors work hand-in-hand with management in operating a company. So news like that must make Rice’s work interesting, to say the least.
She is among a few African American leaders in Chicago who sit on corporate boards. Take a look at this updated list.
DERBY JUSTIFIES A PARTY: Chicagoans celebrated in style for “the most exciting two minutes in sports.” I’m talking about the Kentucky Derby, of course.
Raising my mint julep glass.
STEPPING UP: Irene Michaels, who blogs about celebrities at IontheScene, has another passion–horses.
You can find her in Wayne, Ill., training or competing thoroughbreds. And she’s competed around the country in equestrian events over the years.
Now Michaels is hosting a benefit dinner May 29 to raise awareness for Horses Without Humans, a nonprofit devoted to caring for abandoned and abused horses. The organization “rescues horses from slaughter, giving them proper health care, rehabilitation, training and love.”
The benefit will be at Gene & Georgetti Steakhouse. Tickets are $75 and Michaels also encourages contributions to a GoFundMe campaign.