Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner has donated more than $500,000 to the Illinois Policy Institute over the last five years.
The institute, which bills itself as a free-market, liberty-based organization, promotes a range of policies and has writers in an offshoot called the Illinois News Network, which provides stories free of charge to newspapers. That is troubling. […]
I first learned of the Illinois News Network when I covered some events this summer with a new reporter from that organization — Jackson Adams. One event was at the State Fair, when reporters surrounded Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn. Adams asked the governor why a 401(k)-style plan wasn’t part of a pension-reform plan. That’s a fair question, but it also is true that the policy institute likes the 401(k) model for public employees. So does Rauner. […]
Charlie Wheeler, director of the Public Affairs Reporting master’s degree program at the University of Illinois Springfield, said he looks at a news-producing offshoot of the policy institute as being part of its agenda. He had seen Reeder’s columns, but not other products of the network.
“Any newspaper that uses it and pretends that it’s real news similar to what they might get from The Associated Press or Reuters or Bloomberg is not fully informing the readers,” Wheeler said.
People give money to groups they support. Since the Illinois Policy Institute supports many of the same things as Rauner, it’s pretty tough to say he’s buying their influence. He’s their natural candidate. They don’t stress social conservatism over there, and neither does Rauner. But Rauner is a very hardcore fiscal conservative who is right in step with their viewpoints.
A conspiracy theorist could speculate that this was a Rauner creation in some ways. I’ve seen no evidence of that, but half a mil sure is a lot of cash.
* Coincidentally, Scott Reeder’s latest column is about right to work, an issue that Rauner supports…
GOP gubernatorial hopeful Bruce Rauner supports the concept of allowing individual Illinois counties and municipalities to vote on whether they want to keep the status quo or adopt a local Right-to-Work ordinance.
But the other three Republicans running for governor wouldn’t commit to a position.
State Treasurer Dan Rutherford, and state Sens. Bill Brady and Kirk Dillard all said the political reality in Illinois is such that it would be impossible to pass a Right-to-Work law in Illinois.
Such comments show a certain lack of confidence in their political party’s ability to eventually claim a majority in the General Assembly. And it shows a lack of assurance in their own abilities to lead a disparate Legislature.
But there’s value still in asking questions like these, because they help shed light on a politician’s values and opinions. More importantly, they act as guide stones for where a politician may lead in the future.
Where candidates stand on an issue such as Right to Work is important to know – after all, it has the potential to be one of the most important economic issues facing the state.
Answers like the one given by Brady are not helpful. The state Senator from Bloomington says the reality is that the Democrats control the General Assembly and therefore Right-to-Work laws are irrelevant. He told me I was “wasting his breath” to pursue the questioning.
Brady supported right to work in 2010 and it cost him lots of union support. Calling him out on the issue now plays right into Rauner’s hands, although, again, there’s no proof of any quid pro quo here.
* From last week’s Reeder column…
A few weeks ago, I asked all of the gubernatorial candidates where they stood on a constitutional amendment being promoted by Republican candidate Bruce Rauner. The measure would limit the terms of state legislators, reduce the number of senators and slightly increase the number of House members.
* Meanwhile, from Illinois Review…
If Mr. Rauner points to his donations to Illinois Policy Institute and Heartland Institute as proof of his fiscal conservative views, he may also point to 58 checks amounting to $89,500 written to Republican organizations since January 2013 as proof of his “Republican-ism.”
As the story shows, he’s writing checks to lots of county party organizations, among others.