The Illinois GOP is lashing out at Governor Rauner’s Democrat opponents, Chris Kennedy and J.B. Pritzker for “continuing to dodge on releasing their tax returns.” Uber wealthy candidates like Kennedy, Pritzker, and Rauner who have incestuous big government contracts and ties should make their tax returns public.
Rauner’s tax returns show no detail on how his income has grown to $91 million
Governor Rauner recently released his 2016 income tax return revealing $91 million in taxable income but there’s more to this story. His income tripled in 2015 after was elected in 2014. Yet Rauner’s tax returns show absolutely no detail on how his income has grown substantially since becoming Governor. Remember how he said he was putting his money in a blind trust?…well it wasn’t exactly blind.
Why isn’t the Illinois GOP concerned about this? If they are claiming to be the open, honest party committed to uprooting the corrupt insider system and “shaking up Springfield” shouldn’t they be?
Conflicts of interest are not traceable through released Statement of Economic Interest filings. Parent companies owning parts of other companies is an octopus of conflicts and Rauner knows this.
Rauner’s conflicts of interest are not traceable
How many more conflicts like these are out there but are not traceable? If Rauner were a >$50,000/year vendor with the State of Illinois he’d have to disclose information about all ‘affiliated person or entities.’
For example, Rauner gave his wife’s charity a large taxpayer-funded grant and this isn’t disclosed anywhere on his conflict of interest forms. Wouldn’t being married to the president of a non-profit group (Diana Rauner – Ounce of Prevention Fund) who has lobbyists who are lobbying Illinois warrant disclosure on the Statement of Economic interest from the Governor? But yet this was his reply to the question:
This is Ounce of Prevention Fund’s lobbying registration disclosure and the group says they lobby or intend to lobby the Governor and the Governor’s office:
Clearly, Illinois’ Statement of Economic Interest disclosure forms provides little to no real disclosure.
Who has the responsibility to enforce the penalties associated with any ‘misstatements or omissions’ from these filings? Is there anyone? These basic disclosure safeguards were put in place after the Blagojevich scandal yet they do little to clean up government.
Under Illinois Policy Institute’s Marc Levine, ISBI doubled Illinois’ private equity investment
After he was elected, Rauner tapped Marc Levine from Illinois Policy Institute to chair the Illinois State Board of Investments (ISBI). Since Levine’s appointed, the ISBI DOUBLED the amount of private equity investment that will be made on behalf of Illinois employees and retirees. How much has Rauner made from that investment change?
Nobody knows but the media (and Rauner’s challengers) should be asking that question and more.
It cannot be determined how much money Rauner is making from his private equity investments or how much his firm, GTRC is earning from Illinois pension funds. With the ISBI investing in ‘funds of funds’ it’s impossible to know who is really getting the investment money.
You may not know this but Rauner has made millions of dollars primarily from investing public pension money. He’s done well with that business model.
The SEC should investigate Rauner
In light of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s rules about pay-to-play, pressure should be put on Rauner for full – not token – disclosure. In 2014, Chicago aldermen called for an SEC investigation of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his conflicted donors. Remember, Emanuel learned the private equity game and made millions in his dealings with Rauner and Bill Daley.
Rauner’s biggest donor, Ken Griffin, has already been censured by the SEC. Rauner owns shares in Ken’s Citadel funds. This sure looks like a rigged game.
Here’s just one example of a possible conflict of interest:
Rauner’s conflict of interest with Digital GreenSigns?
Rauner received income through his investment in Digital GreenSigns, a billboard company that received a permit in February from the Illinois Department of Transportation — run by one of the governor’s cabinet members — for a billboard along the Tri-State Tollway / Interstate 294 just south of Lake Street in Northlake.
Digital GreenSigns provided Rauner with $263,943 worth of free campaign advertising in 2014, including ads that appeared on 90-square-foot digital signs the company put up around Chicago before Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration imposed strict regulations limiting where the signs can go and how big and bright they can be. Many of those free ads attacked Rauner’s opponent, former Gov. Pat Quinn.
Digital GreenSigns also has digital billboards in the suburbs, including a 20-year deal to operate a sign on the public works building in Oakbrook Terrace.
Pursuant to Public Act 95-971, effective January 1, 2009, any business entity meeting the definition of an affiliated entity whose existing state contracts, or whose bids or proposals on state contracts exceed $50,000, must electronically register with the State Board of Elections.
Digital GreenSigns is not listed in the State Board of Elections database and under this definition it may or may not legally be required to be.
Public officials like Bruce Rauner must be required, like everyone else, should be required to fully disclose all of their potential conflicts of interest and sources of income. Illinois media, it’s time to step up and ask the Governor these questions.
A big thanks to Downstate for their contributions to this article.