She said Clark, a fellow participant in "kitchen Cabinet" meetings with Emanuel, asked her to help out and she agreed to do so for free.
"We're overseeing the messaging," Tate said of her current firm, D&T Communications.
"He knows I have an independent nature," she said of Clark. "All that work I have done has been to advocate for the parents."
It is not the first time that Emanuel allies have taken an important role in steering the public debate over school controversy.
As tension between the mayor and teachers was building earlier this year, radio ads criticizing the union were produced by John Kupper of AKPD Message and Media, a firm that has been on retainer for Emanuel's campaign committee. Kupper, a key political strategist for Emanuel, declined to discuss his talks with the mayor, and Emanuel said he had no knowledge of the ads before they aired.
In February, when his administration was first pushing for a longer school day and closing some schools, the Tribune identified another Emanuel political ally working quietly in the background. Greg Goldner, who ran Emanuel's successful 2002 bid for Congress, dedicated the skills of his Resolute Consulting firm to write news releases for pastors, produce a video presentation and help plan community events supporting the mayor's agenda.
The Tribune later revealed that Goldner had taken up another controversial cause Emanuel was pushing — automated speed cameras near schools and parks. Goldner was the brains behind a grass-roots coalition that supported cameras, a group that was funded by Chicago's red light camera vendor, Redflex Traffic Systems Inc.
Redflex eventually was disqualified from the speed camera bidding after the Tribune disclosed that the company had failed to report internal corruption allegations stemming from the city's red light program.