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Gov. Quinn reveals more re-election themes

Published: Sunday, March 23, 2014 10:14 p.m. CDT • Updated: Sunday, March 23, 2014 10:16 p.m. CDT

CHICAGO – Gov. Pat Quinn has raised questions about his Republican rival’s ethics in business dealings during a gubernatorial re-election bid that’s expected to be one of the toughest and most expensive nationwide.

Quinn, a Chicago Democrat seeking a second full term, faces a challenge from venture capitalist Bruce Rauner of Winnetka. Rauner, who focused on fighting “government union bosses” as a key campaign theme, emerged from a competitive four-way GOP primary last week.

The governor has already set up the campaign as a “clash of values,” by calling attention to Rauner’s personal wealth and pointing out his changing stance on the minimum wage. Quinn wants to raise Illinois’ rate of $8.25 to at least $10. Rauner initially said he wanted to cut Illinois’ rate, then said he’d raise it under certain circumstances.

Now Quinn is focusing on Rauner’s business dealings and money, according to a Sunday Chicago Sun-Times story.

Focusing on Rauner’s business experience isn’t new. Rauner’s past work at GTCR – a Chicago-based investment firm – was the subject of attacks during the GOP primary. That included questions raised in debates and ads funded by labor unions who oppose Rauner.

Some scrutiny focused on Stuart Levine, who was convicted in former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s corruption scandal. Several media outlets reported Levine was making money from a company partially owned by GTCR while the company was soliciting state pension investment business. Levine was on the board of a state retirement system, and GTCR eventually received tens of millions in business with the system.

Rauner has said that GTCR didn’t have any involvement with Levine and that GTCR got the pension business because it did an “outstanding” job.

But Quinn said Rauner had a “fiduciary duty” to disclose what he considered a conflict.

“The firm really has, in my view, an ethical duty to return the money to the public,” Quinn told the newspaper. “There is no excuse for not knowing that is an ethical breach. ... The explanations, the alibis that were voiced in the primary, are totally insufficient.”

Rauner’s campaign accused Quinn of playing “political games” and blasted his signing of a pension overhaul cutting benefits for state employees and retirees. Quinn has cited the new pension law as one of his biggest achievements.

“Bruce and GTCR have provided Illinois retirees and teachers with tremendous returns, helping secure them a better a retirement. That’s why they were hired,” Rauner campaign spokesman Mike Schrimpf told the newspaper.

Rauner won the GOP primary in a closer-than-expected contest over state Sen. Kirk Dillard, who won endorsements from several unions. Quinn easily captured the Democratic nomination over a lesser-known challenger.

Rauner raised more than $14 million in the Republican primary, including more than $6 million of his own money. Quinn has raised millions, with more than $4.5 million in his campaign account.

Quinn said he’s ready for the November election and cited his past as a political reformer who’s had experience with “everyday people” by helping collect numerous signatures for ballot initiatives.

“I’m a people person, always have been. I don’t think anybody is going to out-campaign me when it comes to interacting with everyday people,” he said.

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Information from: Chicago Sun-Times, http://www.suntimes.com/index

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