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The Chief Counsel at the US Department of Commerce, Kelly Welsh, gave a $5000 check to the Emanuel campaign while a employed by a company making investments for the Chicago Pension Fund. The International Business Times reports that appears to violate federal rules.

But additional details place Welsh at the center of a simmering controversy over potentially improper relationships influencing the investment of American public pension funds: The day he wrote that check, Welsh was a senior executive at Northern Trust, an enormous financial services firm that had contracts to invest money for the Chicago pension system. That appeared to conflict with the objectives of federal rules barring campaign contributions to municipal officials from executives at companies that manage municipal retirement funds.

Since then, Welsh has gotten a new job: He is today chief counsel at the United States Department of Commerce, a position in which he is presumably expected to take special heed of federal laws.

Welsh is not the only one that contributed to the Emanuel campaign. In all, 31 executives from firms investing for the pension fund contributed to Emanuel. Welsh’s firm says that Kelly was on the Executive Committee for the parent company, not the subsidiary that did the investing and therefore didn’t break the “pay-to-play” rule.


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