STUMP » Articles » Illinois Election Watch: What's up with Rauner? » 27 October 2014, 13:56

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Illinois Election Watch: What's up with Rauner?  


27 October 2014, 13:56

Rauner is not sounding all that different from other shady Illinois political operators.

No, this is not about McKinney, per se, but other items that have come across the transom recently.

First off, check out this post on Rauner’s private equity doings by Ted Siedle. I have covered items by Siedle before as he has been one of the people digging at the hedge fund and public pension fund link, especially with regards to secrecy. Here is Ted on North Carolina’s situation, on Rhode Island, on Calpers pulling out of hedge funds… and I could probably dig up more, but that’s enough for now.

Let’s see what Ted has to say about Rauner:

What’s so irksome is that Rauner, like Mitt Romney, believes it is possible for the most secretive of money handlers — managers of opaque, conflict of interest-ridden, high-cost, high-risk, illiquid, hard-to-value private equity investments — to run for public office (and win) without disclosing how they made whatever money they have stashed offshore in the Caymans, or wherever.

Given the complex structure of Rauner’s investment dealings over the decades, unless workers whose pensions are at risk, as well as taxpayers, are up for digging deeply into his past—to gain a fuller understanding of how he reportedly walked away with nearly a billion—he may be right. Let’s hope he’s not.

Throughout his bid for the nation’s highest office, Romney succeeded to an alarming degree in keeping his financing dealings from the public. However, his lack of forthrightness cost him votes. The nation is still in the dark about the devices hedge, venture capital and private equity billionaires employ to prosper outrageously (and unfairly, in my opinion) at the expense of their investors.

In the United Kingdom, a revolt over private equity secrecy at pension funds is emerging, says the Financial Times.

Rauner’s bid for governor of Illinois will answer several crucial questions: Can a massively-funded candidate who refuses to disclose key information regarding an entire career spent managing public monies inspire voters and emerge as a leader? Can a secretive pension manager be trusted to reform his clients?

Lots more at the link.

Siedle has a point. It’s pretty unseemly for people to ask for important positions of power while keeping their financial deals hidden — and that includes people like Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, but obviously people like Rauner and Romney, too.

But here’s something else: Rauner has been involved in a Chicago tourism board that also lacks transparency:

Two years ago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel struck a deal with the Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau with the aim of attracting 50 million visitors a year to the city by 2020.

The mayor eliminated City Hall’s tourism office, transferring many of its duties to the private, not-for-profit convention bureau, whose board was chaired at the time by Bruce Rauner, now the Republican candidate for governor. The combined tourism operation, renamed Choose Chicago, gets about $8 million a year from the city under the arrangement — part of $28.4 million in city and state tax money in its 2013-14 budget.

Officials say the retooled tourism effort has been a success, helping boost the number of people who visited Chicago last year to 48.5 million — up 11 percent from 2011.

But Choose Chicago also has become a home for six-figure-salaried employees, lobbying firms with ties to House Speaker Michael J. Madigan and former Mayor Richard M. Daley, and a consultant who’s a friend of Emanuel, according to a Chicago Sun-Times examination of government contracts, IRS filings and other documents that show:

◆ During Rauner’s time as the group’s unpaid board chair — between the summer of 2010 and the spring of 2013 — Choose Chicago doubled the number of lobbying firms it used, from two to four. Those employed on Rauner’s watch included: B-P Consultants, which is 49 percent-owned by Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios, a Madigan ally who chairs the Cook County Democratic Party; and Rory Group LLC, which includes former Daley aide Terry Teele and Thomas Manion, a former Daley political operative.

Gov. Pat Quinn’s campaign says that, given that the bulk of Choose Chicago’s funding comes from taxpayers, Quinn would back legislation to hold it and similar not-for-profits subject to Illinois’ public-records requirements for government bodies. “It’s important for any entity that receives taxpayer money to be subject to oversight and accountability,” Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson says.

Rauner “supports making the use of tax dollars as transparent as possible while balancing the need to make groups like Choose Chicago as competitive as possible in a very challenging market,” Schrimpf says.

There really should be no call for a tourism board funded by tax dollars to keep its operations hidden. I do not see why Choose Chicago would need the kind of secrecy one would have in a closely-held for-profit company.

Do they think New York City’s tourism board would steal their ideas? Come on.

It sounds like the perfect sort of entity to pay off the connected without necessarily doing any real work.

If you go back to the original article, you see that it’s more about Rahm Emanuel’s cronies, but still. These guys (both Rahm and Rauner) have their fingers in so many pies, I really don’t see why anybody should trust them.

It doesn’t matter the party — this is asking for bad behavior if you don’t force these people to actually be transparent.

Thing is, if the media let their favorites slide, they find it coming to bite them on the asses. Can’t say I’m all that sympathetic to the media, and given how many completely corrupt politicians Illinoisans have elected into office (well, at least the dead ones), I can’t say I’m all that sympathetic with them, either.

After all, I live in New York, so I can’t be throwing around a lot of bricks on this matter.

If Rauner wins, hold his feet to the fire. As well as Rahm’s, Madigan’s, and if Quinn stays, Quinn’s. These guys get away with this crap because people just let it go. Don’t let it go.

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