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More on the Illinois Governor's Race  


20 October 2014, 10:44

In a followup to yesterday’s post, I saw Rich Miller referred to Crain’s, and here are two pieces there.

First, the original Crain’s article from Oct 17:

A Chicago Sun-Times reporter hired former federal prosecutor Patrick Collins to investigate whether the campaign of Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner tried to interfere with his employment after the newspaper ran a story unfavorable to the politician.

Mr. Collins said in an interview with Crain’s that the Rauner campaign attempted to retaliate against Sun-Times political reporter Dave McKinney after the paper ran the story about Mr. Rauner allegedly verbally threatening a top executive of a company controlled by Mr. Rauner’s onetime investment firm. Mr. Rauner denied that report through a spokesman.

Mr. McKinney’s Oct. 6 story, which he co-wrote with Sun-Times and NBC5 News reporter Carol Marin and Sun-Times reporter Don Moseley, said Mr. Rauner threatened Christine Kirk, who served as CEO of a Tempe, Arizona-based business-outsourcing company called LeapSource that was owned by Mr. Rauner’s former firm, GTCR LLC. The threat was disclosed as part of litigation in which Ms. Kirk sued Mr. Rauner and GTCR, but agreed to a settlement in 2008. The ‘R’ in GTCR stands for Rauner and Mr. Rauner led that firm until 2012.

Mr. Rauner previously owned a 10 percent ownership stake in Chicago Sun-Times parent Wrapports LLC. Mr. Rauner sold that stake to Wrapports chief Mr. Ferro last year for $5 million before he decided to run for governor.

The Sun-Times today announced that it would once again begin making political endorsements, reversing a decision it made nearly three years ago after Mr. Ferro, Mr. Rauner and other wealthy Chicagoans purchased the newspaper company in 2011.

The paper said today that its first endorsement under the revived practice would be published on Sunday. The endorsement now appears on the Sun-Times website under the headline “Bruce Rauner for governor.”

I don’t really care about McKinney so much as the odd endorsement. Now today, from Greg Hinz at Crain’s:

What I do know is that it’s fair to ask whether the Sun-Times — which over the weekend made the equally extraordinary decision to change its policy and endorse Mr. Rauner over incumbent Pat Quinn without even giving the latter the opportunity to speak to it — is fully the master of its own house. After all, Mr. Rauner owned 10 percent of the paper until April 2013.

And it’s fair to ask whether this episode tells us anything about how the still relatively unknown Mr. Rauner will govern.

Now, I’m in no position to criticize an endorsement of the GOP contender. Crain’s editorial board did just that. But Crain’s did so only after inviting each man to come in and make his case.

The Sun-Times did nothing of the sort. Its editorial board hasn’t heard from Mr. Quinn since March, the governor’s spokeswoman says, and he was not invited in. That suggests the endorsement was predetermined — fixed, in more direct language.

That’s management’s right. When a newspaper endorses a candidate, it’s management and ownership speaking, not the staff. But endorsing without hearing from both sides is tacky. It undermines a paper’s legitimacy. In this business, the “firewall” is supposed to separate the editorial and business sides of the publication. And that is pertinent to the question of why the McKinney matter unfolded the way it did.

My colleague Rich Miller has his own thoughts, which will publish later today. Check out his piece about how he was dismissed by the Sun-Times after penning a column critical of Mr. Rauner.

Mr. Miller is quite capable of speaking for himself. But a lot of unanswered questions remain here.

This subject may come up on tonight’s debate on WLS-TV/Channel 7. I hope it does, because I and, I suspect, lots of voters would like to know more.

I’m waiting for Rich Miller’s piece and will add when updated. I think it will be posted here when published.

From last week, Miller was critical of Rauner’s ‘plans’, such as they are.

It sounds to me like the fix was in for Rauner at the Sun-Times, though that’s not particularly unusual. One assumes similar things when the NY Times does endorsements. It rarely surprises. It’s also unsurprising that Crain’s endorsed Rauner.

Thing is, it’s not necessarily helping Rauner if every negative story is squashed.

Look how that’s “helped” Obama — sure, he got elected, but he’s run from screw-up to screw-up. If you never have people calling you on your shit, you will never correct until it’s catastrophic.

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