Chicago Tribune

Melissa Harris’ Chicago Confidential

November 18, 2012

Alvarez joins Culloton

Public relations firm Culloton Strategies has hired Michael Alvarez, a commissioner of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, as senior vice president for public affairs.

As the Sun-Times reported in January, Alvarez, 32, has worked for Barack ObamaRod Blagojevich and Richard M. Daley — while he has close ties to Ald. Richard Mell, Blagojevich’s father-in-law.

In addition to his $70,000 annual salary at the water district, Alvarez has a $60,000-a-year public relations contract with the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority and a “fast-growing” lobbying practice, the Sun-Times reported.

According to Alvarez, he is registered as a lobbyist with seven companies, including Saint Anthony Hospital and American Traffic Solutions, a competitor to the city’s red-light camera company, Redflex Traffic Systems.

Among Culloton’s clients are the Chicago Cubs and the team’s owners, the Ricketts family, who are trying to get government assistance to help pay for Wrigley Field renovations.

“The reason why I wanted Mike to join the team is that he was the director of outreach for President Obama when he was Sen. Obama,” Culloton Strategies founder Dennis Culloton said. “He was the first and only Hispanic elected official to endorse Mayor (Rahm) Emanuel during his run for mayor … and he’s a strong ally of a great number of other important policymakers and political figures in Chicago and across the state.”

Alvarez will continue his state agency and lobbying work on books separate from those of Culloton Strategies, Culloton said. However, Alvarez said he expects his lobbying work to wane over time, and he’ll instead be advising clients on how best to do it themselves, he said.

Melissa Harris can be reached at or 312-222-4582. Twitter @chiconfidential or

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