CHICAGO – A new television campaign ad accuses Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican seeking another term in November, of profiting off President Donald Trump’s now-abandoned “zero tolerance” border policy of separating immigrant children from their families.
Rauner’s Democratic challenger, J.B. Pritzker, launched the ad Wednesday.
It is the latest allegation lobbed between two ultra-rich candidates in what is expected to be one of the most expensive governor’s races in history.
A look at the claims:
PRITZKER AD: “Across the country, Democratic and Republican governors spoke out against their state supporting Donald Trump taking children away from their parents. But Bruce Rauner said he wasn’t giving it any thought whatsoever. And now we learn why. Because Bruce Rauner has been profiting off Donald Trump’s policy. That’s right. Rauner is an owner of this company that’s been paid millions to help keep children separated from their parents.”
THE FACTS: There is no evidence that Rauner has made money off keeping immigrant children separated, and Rauner did speak out against the Trump policy.
The Pritzker ad was launched after Politico published an article this week saying that Rauner invests in a for-profit health care company called Correct Care Solutions that provides dental, medical and mental health services in state and federal prisons, jails and juvenile detention centers across the country. Since 2015, the Department of Justice has awarded nearly $1 billion in federal contracts to the company, government records show.
Correct Care Solutions does not hold contracts with any facilities that house separated children, said Judy Lilley, a spokeswoman for Correct Care Solutions. The company treats adult detainees at some Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention centers and provides a physician for the Karnes County Residential Center in Texas, which houses immigrant families together. The company also provides health care to a correctional center in Milan, New Mexico, where AP reported that a 31-year-old father separated from his child was being housed.
In a state ethics disclosure this year, Rauner listed stakes in dozens of companies, including private equity funds managed by his former company, GTCR. One of those GTCR funds co-owns Correct Care Solutions along with two other private equity funds and other investors.
After becoming Illinois governor, Rauner in 2015 pledged to follow what he called “blind trust” procedures for his investments. He handed over control of his wealth to an investment adviser, but still can consult with the adviser. It is unknown how much influence Rauner might have over Correct Care Solutions.
A finance expert says private equity investors can exert a lot of control over companies.
“They even have the power to change the management,” said Swasti Gupta-Mukherjee, a finance professor at Loyola University Chicago. “It’s important to keep them happy.”
As for the assertion that Rauner hadn’t given any thought to Trump’s family separations, the governor called the policy “bad,” "wrong,” and “heartbreaking,” in an interview with the Chicago Tribune in June, just before the practice was abolished.
Rauner did say he had not given “any thought whatsoever” to rescinding his offer to send National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, as some governors did after the family separation policy generated controversy. No Illinois National Guard troops have been deployed to assist at the border, Major Dutch Grove of the Guard told the AP.
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