CHICAGO – Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis has another qualification for pursuing a political career: she’s a full-blown hypocrite.
Lewis – who is mulling a Chicago mayoral run – has repeatedly railed against current Mayor Rahm Emanuel for being rich and out-of-touch with the working poor.
But a stunning report from the Chicago Sun-Times reveals Lewis isn’t doing too badly herself.
Not only does the labor boss make more than $200,000 a year, but records show she “has an ownership interest in three homes,” including one in Hawaii and another in a posh southwestern Michigan community, the Sun-Times reports.
This revelation has to be embarrassing for Lewis, who made this class warfare-like “tweet” last year: “Why do people of wealth and privilege try to convince the world they have neither? Be honest that you don’t have a clue about poverty.”
That’s especially ironic considering that Lewis has publicly described herself as “not egotistical or rich.”
While the vacation homes are the most sensational part of the revelation, Lewis’ exorbitant salary shouldn’t be passed over too quickly.
The Sun-Times points out that Lewis campaigned for the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) presidency by pledging to not earn more than the district’s highest paid teacher.
It looks like she hasn’t kept that promise.
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The newspaper reports Lewis holds two leadership posts – one with the CTU and another with the Illinois Federation of Teachers. Between those two positions, Lewis earned $201,047 in straight salary last year. (When benefits and “other compensation” are added in, Lewis took home $235,773 last year.)
That’s far more than Chicago Public Schools’ highest-paid educator earned, and only slightly less than Mayor Emanuel’s 2013 salary of $216,200, the Sun-Times notes.
When Lewis was confronted with her apparent hypocrisy on Tuesday, she offered the laughable excuse that she works year-round while teachers only work 39 weeks a year. (Wonder how that bit of snobbery is going to fly with rank-and-file CTU members.)
She also addressed her three-home lifestyle.
“I don’t live extravagantly,” Lewis told the newspaper. “But if you look just at the numbers, then, absolutely, I am in the 5 percent. We are comfortable. We are not poor. We have never been poor. Does that mean I don’t have the pulse of (the poor)? I don’t live in luxury. I don’t hang out with wealthy people. I have always been solidly middle class.”
She doesn’t “hang out with wealthy people”? Who are her Hawaiian neighbors – the Joad family from “The Grapes of Wrath”?
“You cannot put me in the same class with Rahm Emanuel or (Republican gubernatorial candidate) Bruce Rauner,” Lewis added.
Actually, Chicago voters can do whatever they want. And if they decide it’s unsavory for an “us versus them” rabble rouser to own three homes – including a “three-bedroom, three-bathroom condominium on the Big Island of Hawaii” – then Lewis’ political career might be over even before it begins.
Chicago’s mayoral election will be held in February. Lewis recently said there was a “50-50” chance she’ll run for the office.