Citizens for Rauner has released a brand new ad smacking Democrat candidate for Governor, J.B. Pritzker, using audio from an old FBI wiretap of Pritzker talking with former Governor, now prison inmate #40892-424, Rod Blagojevich.
Blago, in true Blago mode, was suggesting (but not promising, hint, hint, nudge, nudge) that he would/could appoint Pritzker to the position of Attorney General. The audio is long, unedited, hard to follow. No crime committed, no charges against Pritzker, no quid pro quo, just the moral unseemliness of it all (agreeing with Blago that Lisa Madigan should be appointed Senator, etc.) It’s something but Team Rauner better have more than this if they expect to win against a Democrat billionaire.
Rauner’s glass house: Ties to Blagojevich insider Stuart Levine
Rauner has his own glass house: his financial ties to Blagojevich political insider, Stuart Levine. Isn’t it funny that Republican leaders didn’t seem to have a problem with Rauner’s blago ties in 2014 or since?
Levine is the political insider who became one of the government’s key witnesses in the corruption investigation of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s administration. In the end, he was sentenced to five years in prison after pleaded guilty to money laundering and fraud charges. He could have received a life sentence but prosecutors recommended a reduced sentence for the serial swindler and longtime drug addict as part of a plea deal.
Judge to Levine: The most corrupt individuals this district has ever seen
Before handing down Levine’s 5+ year prison sentence, Judge St. Eve told Levine, “You are one of the most corrupt individuals this district has ever seen.”
Rauner was running in these corrupt circles prior to becoming Governor and it didn’t bother Illinois GOP leaders and it didn’t bother the figureheads at the conservative Illinois Policy Institute, who were on Rauner’s payroll.
Rauner promised voters he was different. Back in 2014, he said, “The political class in Springfield are either unwilling to, or incapable of, making the kind of changes we need.”
In business, Rauner was more than happy to cut deals with this corrupt political class including one of the most notorious political fixers of them all, Stuart Levine.
Rauner and Levine: Bribes for business
ICYMI: Crain’s Chicago Business reports:
In testimony during the 2008 trial of Blagojevich pal Tony Rezko, Mr. Levine and others said Mr. Levine had had a $25,000-a-month contract “consulting” for CompBenefits Corp., an Atlanta-based dental and vision benefits company once known as CompDent. According to its website, CompBenefits at the time of Mr. Levine’s contract principally was owned by four private-equity firms, including GTCR LLC. Mr. Rauner, a founder of GTCR, is the “R” in the acronym.
Mr. Levine said his job was to get work for CompBenefits through whatever means were needed, including payoffs. A 2005 Sun-Times article says the firm then held contracts covering tens of thousands of workers at Chicago Public Schools and with the state.
Mr. Levine testified that he’d paid a bribe to obtain the CPS work, worked with insiders Bill Cellini and Ed Vrdolyak on other deals (both men later were convicted in unrelated federal cases) and plotted with Mr. Rezko to get work with Cook County via Orlando Jones, a key insider who later committed suicide.
Investors can get entangled in all sorts of things. Messrs. Levine and Rezko eventually went to prison on other matters, and prosecutors never took any action on CompBenefits. Perhaps that’s because they could not corroborate Mr. Levine’s testimony, or perhaps it’s because some major figures were going to prison anyway.
Rauner’s firm, GTCR, based on Levine’s own testimony, paid Levine $25K a month for consulting and part of his job was to bribe people for work for CompBenefits?
GOP insiders didn’t care about Rauner’s history with Blagojevich insiders
Bruce Rauner knows this insider game better than anyone because he directly benefited from it. How many other public pension deals did Rauner’s firm, GTCR, receive because of bribes and payoffs?
This information was public in 2014 and GOP insiders said nothing. Rauner’s friends at Illinois Policy Institute and Illinois Opportunity Project said nothing. Rauner’s wallet helped overcome any crisis of conscience.
As the old saying goes, those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Governor Rauner, you have one helluva glass house.