I wanted to share this debate between Governor Quinn and Candidate Rauner
yesterday but our internet went down. It really was a very heated meeting with
the Tribune Editorial Board and one of the few times the candidates have been
It is my understanding there may be three more debates between the candidates.
Heading to Chicago with Phil today to talk to the Governor’s key health advisor,
Michael Gelder to discuss the 1115 Waiver and other disability issues.
Story from Chicago Tribune.
Quinn, Rauner heated in rare campaign
Character attacks fly as foes head into governor’s race homestretch
By Rick Pearson, Monique Garcia and Bob Secter Tribune reporters
Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican challenger Bruce Rauner lobbed
a nonstop volley of character attacks at each other during their first face-to-face
meeting in five months, a strong signal that the homestretch of the governor’s
race will focus on personalities rather than issues.
During an 80-minute Chicago Tribune Editorial Board endorsement session
Tuesday, the candidates even went so far as to raise accusations of criminal
activity against each other as a substantive discussion of Illinois’ myriad
challenges went largely by the wayside.
Quinn portrayed Rauner as a wealthy profiteer who refuses to offer specific
plans on governing. Rauner painted Quinn as a failed, corrupt governor unable
to turn around the state’s economy. Those broad-brush characterizations led
both candidates to frequently interrupt each other in exchanges like this one:
“Over and over again, you’ve made money, you’ve made a fortune …” Quinn
said of Rauner, an equity investor from Winnetka.
“For the pensions of Illinois,” Rauner, whose firm did pension investment
business in the state, quickly interjected.
“No, no,” Quinn shot back, “You’ve made a fortune off the misfortune of
vulnerable human beings and workers and consumers. You won’t take
“We’ve never been accused of wrongdoing and you have,” Rauner replied.
While much of the contest so far has focused on a federal investigation of a
Quinn administration grant program and Rauner’s shifting positions on the
minimum wage, the Democratic governor offered a new allegation Tuesday.
Quinn said that in December, during the heat of negotiations over a measure
to drastically change public employee pension benefits, House Republican
leader Jim Durkin told him that Rauner was offering campaign cash to GOP
lawmakers to vote against the bill.
Rauner acknowledged working against the pension bill, which Quinn signed
into law, but denied the governor’s allegation. Durkin aides referred calls to
the state Republican Party, which did not directly address Quinn’s allegation
in an emailed statement.
In the tense atmosphere, both Rauner and Quinn sometimes stretched their
statements beyond what the facts bear out.
Rauner, the first-time Republican candidate, renewed attempts to link Quinn
to his predecessor, imprisoned former Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Rauner also has
worked to tie Quinn to powerful Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan,
who has served in that office for all but two years during the past three
“We have been run by three people for years and years — Pat Quinn, Rod
Blagojevich and Mike Madigan. They are the trio of terrible government,”
Rauner said. He said Quinn and Blagojevich were “of the same ilk,” operating
in a system funded by pro-Democratic plaintiffs lawyers and engaged in “a
one-party system of corruption, patronage and crony-ism.”
“The only difference between Pat and Rod is the hair,” Rauner said.
But Rauner repeatedly said that Quinn vouched for Blagojevich’s integrity
even after Blagojevich was indicted, which was not the case.
Quinn did call Blagojevich “a person who’s honest and one of integrity” in
2006 — while the Blagojevich administration was under federal investigation
but well before Blagojevich’s December 2008 arrest and April 2009 indictment
on corruption charges.
Rauner also had difficulty with dates in discussing his shifting positions on
the minimum wage.
“I’ve been crystal-clear. I put it in writing last December, in writing, what our
policy is on the minimum wage. We can look it up and if you need it, I’ll send it
to you. I think it was in your paper,” Rauner told the editorial board.
It was in December, during a business forum in Moline, that Rauner said he
would advocate lowering Illinois’ $8.25-an-hour minimum wage to the $7.25-an-
hour federal rate. It wasn’t until Jan. 9 that Rauner wrote an op-ed piece in the
Tribune explaining that he now supports either an increase in the federal
minimum wage to match Illinois’ rate or an increase in the state rate
accompanied by pro-business regulatory changes.
Rauner attacked Quinn over dual scandals involving his troubled 2010 anti-
violence program called the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, as well as
patronage hiring at the Illinois Department of Transportation.
In doing so, Rauner repeatedly declared that Quinn was personally under
federal investigation in relation to the anti-violence program, which the governor
has denied. A federal grand jury has issued subpoenas seeking records from
several former top officials of Quinn’s who helped create or run the program,
which came under fire after a state audit found that grant money was funneled
to various groups with little oversight.
Quinn responded that unlike Rauner, he accepts responsibility for problems
under his watch. Then the governor quickly blamed several top aides, including
his then-transportation secretary, for the patronage scandal at the agency.
Quinn noted that a report by the state’s chief ethics watchdog cleared the
administration of any wrongdoing. While the report did not pin blame on Quinn
for improper hires, it criticized the administration for expanding a practice put
in place under Blagojevich in which politically connected people got jobs at the
agency without going through the routine hiring process.
Hundreds of people were hired into a special “staff assistant” position under
personnel procedures typically reserved for higher-level, policymaking jobs in
which officials are allowed to consider political allegiance. But many of the
employees ended up doing work such as mowing, answering phones and
organizing files, lower-level jobs that are supposed to be covered under
stricter personnel rules that give a fair shot to any qualified applicant.
Quinn’s former IDOT chief, Ann Schneider, said the “vast majority” of people
hired under the practice were those “recommended to me or my staff by the
On Tuesday, Quinn said he did not make job recommendations personally
at IDOT but acknowledged that top office aides had submitted names. Still,
Quinn said it was up to Schneider to determine whether they fell within hiring
rules. The governor said those recommendations were made by his then-
chief of staff, Jack Lavin, and former deputy chief of staff, Sean O’Shea,
who left the administration last month.
Quinn tried to turn the tables on Rauner, accusing his challenger of having
“defrauded” a state pension board that awarded additional investment
business to Rauner’s GTCR equity firm.
In May 2003, Rauner appeared before the board of the Illinois Teachers’
Retirement System to ask it to invest $50 million in pension funds with GTCR.
Among the pension panel members who approved the investment was political
fixer Stuart Levine, who at the time also secretly was being paid $25,000 a
month under a contract with a GTCR-owned dental insurance company called
CompDent. Levine’s deal with CompDent began before GTCR bought the
Levine later became a major figure in the scandals that led to Blagojevich’s
downfall, and on Tuesday Quinn again attacked Rauner for not disclosing the
connection while asking the pension board for money. Rauner said he was
unaware of the tie at the time.
The governor also again called Rauner a billionaire, though Rauner has said
only that his net worth is somewhere above $500 million. And Quinn criticized
Rauner for scandals involving some GTCR-funded businesses, accusing him
of putting profits ahead of people.
Rauner repeatedly has sought to insulate himself from scandals involving
some GTCRfunded businesses by stressing that he had no direct role in their
operations. Asked at the editorial board session if he was comfortable with
the answer that “the buck doesn’t stop with you,” Rauner replied, “It is the
Rauner, however, was involved with Lason, a GTCRowned document
imaging company that unraveled in what has been called one of the worst
corporate accounting scandals in U.S. history.
The ringleader of the accounting scandal, Chief Financial Officer William
Rauwerdink, was hired by the Lason board of directors in 1996 when Rauner
was a member of the board. Rauwerdink had recently been sanctioned for
insider trading by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Later
Rauwerdink was promoted to the company’s board by Rauner and fellow
SEC records show that GTCR made at least $32 million from its Lason
investment by cashing out before the company’s stock tanked amid
revelations that its books had been cooked by Rauwerdink. Rauner left the
board as the stock began its plunge.
While GTCR profited from Lason, court records show that other investors
and lenders lost about $285 million. Rauwerdink, CEO and board Chairman
Gary Monroe and another top executive eventually were convicted.
“I was on the board and I knew those executives,” Rauner said Tuesday.
“The CEO and the CFO cooperated with each other to implement a significant
fraud on us and the company. It was uncovered. We helped encourage the
investigation and prosecuted and helped those folks go to jail.”
Another attack line by Quinn involved $300,000 in political donations that
Rauner made more than a decade ago to Pennsylvania Democrat Ed Rendell,
who would soon be elected governor of that state.
Two months ago, Rendell told the Tribune Editorial Board that after his
election, he put in a good word to help win new Pennsylvania pension business
for Rauner’s private equity firm.
On Tuesday, Rauner said there was no connection between the donation
and Pennsylvania pension investments, and he accused Rendell and Quinn of
cooking up the story over a dinner the two shared last spring.