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Swing and a miss?

Friday, Jan 31, 2014

* OK, so more than a few of us in and out of the media know the identity of Treasurer Dan Rutherford’s accuser.  I’m not naming him because of the sorts of allegations that are being made and the fact that neither side is talking yet.

And I’m not gonna make any judgement on the validity of the allegations leveled against the treasurer.  I haven’t seen the documents.  I don’t know nearly enough about the details to say one way or the other.

* But it’s the other aspect of this strange day that has really made me curious. Is Bruce Rauner somehow behind this? Did Rauner or his henchmen gin it up? The Rauner campaign’s brief use of the accuser’s attorney was trumpeted by Treasurer Rutherford as proof that Rauner concocted this. If true, that’s an atomic bomb.

Except, here’s the thing. The accuser has been involved in city and state Democratic politics for a long time.  He went to work for the treasurer’s office because he was apparently friends with Rutherford, who even attended the guy’s wedding.

The accuser is refusing to talk at the moment, but I gotta say that as of right now I really just don’t see a plausible “blame Rauner” connection to these allegations.

This will have to play itself out quite a bit more. Be patient.

…Adding… It’s gonna get really ugly, campers

Sources with knowledge of the allegations say that the male employee is lodging both EEOC harassment allegations and a First Amendment complaint against Rutherford.

…Adding more… This isn’t really a major item or anything, but Christine Svenson, the alleged “Rauner lawyer” who’s been working for the Rutherford accuser has a photo of herself with Rutherford’s running mate on her Facebook page

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Attorney: Allegations against Rutherford are “serious and real”

Friday, Jan 31, 2014

* The Sun-Times has a statement from the attorney for a Dan Rutherford employee who has made allegations against the gubernatorial candidate. Rutherford has blamed Bruce Rauner for being behind the case. But the lawyer flatly denies it

“My client came to me a couple of weeks ago with serious and real allegations concerning Mr. Rutherford.” […]

“This morning, Mr. Rutherford chose to make this matter about politics — probably because the facts are so troubling. I have nothing against Dan Rutherford, and have no horse in the governor’s primary race.” […]

“My client had initiated a claim with the Inspector General of the Treasurer’s Office before coming to me,” Svenson said in her statement. “After investigating the evidence, we elected to contact Mr. Rutherford’s office directly. Mr. Rutherford’s general counsel and in-house counsel both expressed a strong interest in keeping the matter private, and also expressed an appreciation for our willingness to do so. We were exchanging information and negotiating on a good-faith basis for days until as recently as yesterday. These types of negotiations are, in my experience, common with regard to the Treasurer’s office and have nothing to do with politics or the gubernatorial primary.”

I’ve also been working this story and have serious doubts that the Rauner campaign had anything to do with the attorney in question or the case itself. From what I know at the moment, the person who referred the accuser to that attorney had no relationship with the Rauner campaign.

So, if the “blame Rauner” aspect blows up, then what happens if the actual allegations surface?

Oof.

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Reader comments closed for the weekend

Friday, Jan 31, 2014

* My buddy Kevin Artl lost his dad a few days ago, so Kevin got to choose this week’s song. And, man, it’s a good one

Walk with me to the fountain
And hold onto my arm

- Posted by Rich Miller   Comments Off      


Still going strong

Friday, Jan 31, 2014

* Jim Nowlan has a great column about longtime lobster Dick Lockhart

Full of spit and vinegar at 90, Richard Lockhart has for 55 years been the gold standard in lobbying Illinois government — that is, in getting the right information in the right format to the right people at the right time.

Lockhart has some suggestions for small organizations and individuals with interests in legislation.

A combat infantryman in World War II, Lockhart’s anti-tank company was overrun by the Germans during the Battle of the Bulge. As a prisoner of war, he suffered frost-bitten feet, which bother him to this day.

In 1954, Dick Lockhart worked on the successful effort to redistrict the Illinois legislature, which hadn’t been done since 1901.

A Chicagoan, Dick set up his own lobbying shop in 1958 and has carved out a niche of representing small statewide organizations that lack the big money to contribute heavily to candidates and officials.

His first client was the Mental Health Association of Illinois, and Dick is still their lobbyist.

In 1969-70 Dick served as a special consultant to the state Constitutional Convention. He convinced Con-Con president Sam Witwer to put the convention product to the voters in a special election, when only those with an interest one way or the other would vote for it, rather than in a general election, when the question would be weighed down by voters who knew nothing about it.

As a result, the 1970 Constitution was enacted.

* Unfortunately, Politico Influence misinterpreted the column as an obit. Its headline: ILLINOIS LOBBYING ‘GOLD STANDARD’ DIES.

Um, Dick ain’t dead.

Far from it.

In fact, he’s having a 90th birthday party at the Sangamo Club on February 5th from 5-7.

- Posted by Rich Miller   14 Comments      


Question of the day

Friday, Jan 31, 2014

* Cartoonist Scott Stantis sent out this narrative along with his latest cartoon last night…

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan has proposed a coporate income tax cut. This, in an attempt to beautify a business environment he and his fellow Democrats have polluted for decades,

It may be a good first step for slowing the free fall the state is in towards the bottom of the list of states to do business in. We have one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. (It hasn’t budged in over a year). Businesses leaving in droves and virtually zero new business start-ups.

Something tells me it is going to take a lot more than a maybe tax cut to stop the hemorrhaging.

* The cartoon…

* I don’t disagree with much of what Stantis said, and I kinda like the cartoon. And I really don’t want to make the comments about Stantis here.

But, “virtually zero new business start-ups”? C’mon. Just hang out in Chicago for a while and you can’t miss the growth. There are things happening there, and elsewhere in this state.

Coincidentally, check out this Wednesday story from EconomicModeling.com

As we documented in a new analysis with CareerBuilder, Texas created 22% of the nation’s net private-sector business establishments from 2009 to 2012 (more than 29,000). New York created 16% of all net establishments (nearly 21,000) and Illinois created 14% (18,000-plus). That’s more than half of all net establishments since the end of the recession in three states. [Emphasis added.]

Wait.

14 percent of the net private-sector business establishments created in the country were right here in Illinois?

And if you look at their chart, Illinois was 7th in the nation in per capita new business establishments.

Who woulda thunk that?

* The Question: What slogan should Illinois use to combat the pervasive negative stereotyping about it?

- Posted by Rich Miller   95 Comments      


Money reports not looking so good for a couple of congressional challengers

Friday, Jan 31, 2014

* Oh, this is not good at all. Check out state Rep. Mike Bost’s 4th Quarter fundraising report for his congressional bid

Total Contributions (other than loans) $63,000.92

Net Operating Expenditures $62,019.30

Cash on Hand at Close of Reporting Period $43,549.47

Yikes. 63 grand raised in a quarter? I know state legislative candidates who’ve raised more than that.

Bost’s Democratic opponent Bill Enyart has not yet filed.

…Adding… From an Enyart press release…

Enyart for Congress will report the campaign raised $180,352 in the 4th Quarter of 2013 and ended the year with $407,619 cash on hand.

* From a column earlier this week in the Sauk Valley newspaper

Bobby Schilling, R-Colona, said he makes about 10 to 20 fundraising calls a day.

That’s it? Not much. And if he’s telling a reporter that, you wonder how many calls he’s really making, particularly considering his latest quarterly fundraising report

Total Contributions (other than loans) $122,046.95

* From The Hill

Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.) hauled in $330,000 in the last three months of 2013 and has more than $800,000 in the bank, her campaign announced Monday morning.

Bustos raised more than $1 million in 2013 for her rematch against former Rep. Bobby Schilling (R-Ill.), a strong figure for the freshman congresswoman.

Better start making more phone calls, there, Bobby.

Just sayin…

* In other news

Vulnerable Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill., raised $280,000 in the fourth quarter, according to figures provided first to CQ Roll Call. Davis starts the election year with $1.05 million in the bank for this top-target race.

His fourth-quarter haul marks his lowest of the year. Last quarter, Davis raised $300,000, and he posted $455,000 between April 1 and June 30.

Operatives anticipate House Republicans will post relatively low fundraising in the fourth quarter, thanks in part to the government shutdown in October. The three-week-long federal government closure prevented many incumbents from dialing for dollars. […]

On the Democratic side, former Judge Ann Callis and physics professor George Gollin are seeking the Democratic nod. Callis raised $255,000 in the fourth quarter and has more than $500,000 cash on hand going into the March primary, her campaign announced on Tuesday.

Neither George Gollin nor Republican Erika Harold have yet filed.

* Freshman Democratic Congressman Brad Schneider raised $340K. Former Republican Congressman Bob Dold raised $304K.

* On the other hand, the RGA is going gangbusters

The Republican Governors Association significantly outpaced its Democratic counterpart in 2013 fundraising.

According to totals released Thursday, the Democratic Governors Association announced that it raised about $28 million in 2013 across its three committees. The RGA announced earlier this week that it raised $50.3 million in 2013 through its 527 committee.

The RGA — which normally does not release additional fundraising numbers — told POLITICO Thursday that it raised another $2.2 million through an affiliated nonprofit. That brings its total cash haul to $52.5 million in 2013 — close to double what the Democrats raised.

- Posted by Rich Miller   7 Comments      


*** UPDATED x3 - SCRIPT - VIDEO *** Mysterious radio/TV ad launches, attacks Rutherford, Brady, Dillard but not Rauner

Friday, Jan 31, 2014

*** UPDATE 1 *** Here’s the video version…

Click to view

*** UPDATE 2 *** Script…

More pay for them, higher taxes for you.

That’s what career politicians do.

Career politicians like Bill Brady, Dan Rutherford and Kirk Dillard.

Together, they’ve spent over 60 years in Springfield.

They’ve voted to increase their own pay, and supported millions in porkbarrel spending.

And to pay for it all, they stuck Illinois families with higher taxes

Call career politicians Brady, Rutherford and Dillard. Tell them we can’t afford higher taxes and wasteful spending.

*** UPDATE 3 *** My mom says the TV ad is playing in the Quad Cities.

[ *** End Of Updates *** ]

* A reader sent this in earlier today…

Sorry for short hand. In a rush today.

Just heard radio ad on WTAX at 754 this morn. Repeated other 3 candidates names several time calling the career politicians, pork barrel, raising taxes to pay for their excess - all the red meat empty rhetoric dog whistle. Encouraged listener to call all 3 & gives numbers.

Does not mention rauner, & says paid for by Mid America Fund. Another Ohio situation?

Also - does not mention governor race at all. Just those three calling them tax raising pork barrel etc etc etc & encourages you to call each one of the 3 and gives numbers.

* I haven’t been able to find a copy of the ad yet. Kinda got distracted by the Rutherford stuff. But I’m looking around. The committee is not yet registered with the Illinois State Board of Elections as far as I can tell.

In the meantime, ironically enough, it turns out that the not-for-profit Mid America Fund appears to have been created on January 13th by an Ohio-based registered agent

Roberta J. Mertz
44904 Kacsmar Estates Dr
St. Clairsville, OH 43950

In case you’re wondering, the SuperPac that went after Aaron Schock last year was based in Ohio. Schock claimed that Bruce Rauner was behind that attack. Rauner has denied it.

* I’m also told the buy was done by NewDay Media Services out of Atlanta, GA.

I’ll keep searching for the audio.

- Posted by Rich Miller   24 Comments      


Stand by for news… Rutherford claims Rauner behind shakedown attempt

Friday, Jan 31, 2014

* Sun-Times

llinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford who is running for governor, is calling a news conference Friday to address allegations made against him, according to a source.

There is nothing involving him dropping out of the race, according to a campaign spokeswoman.

The spokeswoman said the press conference in response to “bad behavior” related to another candidates in the primary race.

The presser begins at 10:30 this morning.

I’ll let you know what’s happening.

* Let’s do a ScribbleLive feed

- Posted by Rich Miller   174 Comments      


Behind the MJM tax cut proposal

Friday, Jan 31, 2014

* Greg Hinz looks at House Speaker Madigan’s surprise proposal to cut the corporate income tax rate in half

Now, few people ever decipher exactly what the speaker is up to. And the plan comes at a time when both the sad shape of the state’s economy and its weak finances are drawing tons of attention in the Legislature and on the gubernatorial campaign trail.

So, I’d view the Madigan proposal as a bit of a conversation-starter. But as Illinois Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Doug Whitley puts it, “When Mr. Madigan is the person pushing it, I take it seriously.”

Mr. Whitley’s suspicion is that the speaker may want to lower the tax rate while widening the tax base by eliminating exemptions and “loopholes,” something that could get a lot of support. And there appears to be no question that while some Illinois taxes are relatively low, the corporate income tax puts this state at a competitive disadvantage relative to neighboring states.

So, maybe that’s it. Or maybe the speaker fully knows his proposal faces an uphill battle to get past Senate President John Cullerton and Gov. Pat Quinn, and therefore is just snagging a bit of easy pro-biz protection for his caucus.

I think Whitley and Hinz are both probably right.

* House Republican Leader Jim Durkin was more suspicious of Madigan’s motives

“Is this a bait and switch to move to a graduated tax, which House Republicans oppose?”

I don’t think MJM is all-in on the graduated tax proposal, but props to Durkin for getting that “which House Republicans oppose” phrase into the story.

* But I really doubt these revenue claims can be achieved on their own…

Madigan’s office doesn’t believe it would leave a massive hole in the budget.

“I think if you look at what happens in other states, and what is likely to happen here, that the moneys that might be lost in terms of tax rate and the existing number of employers will be offset by growth in terms of employers and employee wages,” Brown said.

Brown says the idea is a more fair, across-the-board way of attracting and retaining businesses, versus giveaways for select big companies.

Without any corresponding loophole closures, you’d have to grow the economy in a very big way to make up for that annual $1.5 billion budget hole.

* Tribune editorial

And now, with the gubernatorial candidates of both parties failing to make much of an impression on what Illinois should do about income taxes, Michael Madigan positions himself as the leader to watch.

We hope he’ll think broadly about this state’s high spending and the overall tax scheme that enables it. Example: Should the scheduled rollback in income tax rates be linked to a reduction in state sales tax rates and application of that tax not only to goods, but to services?

In other words, can Madigan exploit the opening he has created to give Illinois a broader tax base — with lower rates for every individual and business?

For now, Madigan has telegraphed that the pension reforms he helped pass are far from enough to rejuvenate this state’s languishing economy. He has outflanked the leaders of both parties (and their candidates for governor) to start the overdue debate on tax rates.

* But

And for those who want to see the hike expire?

“Well hopefully they’ll come forward with their idea for what programs they want to cut, and what taxes they want to force on local governments or schools or what have you,” Brown said. “That’s sort of two separate issues in our view.”

* And then there’s this

With an S corporation classification, businesses pay the personal income tax rate of 5 percent. Noonan’s Hardware, in Springfield, is among them. Owner, Matt Noonan III, says a corporate tax cut would give his competitors an advantage, strengthening their bottom lines and, at times, allowing them to offer lower prices.

That’s true, up to a point. The biz tax rate right now is 7 percent, plus a 2.5 percent Personal Property Replacement Rax. Cutting just the tax rate in half would leave it at 3.5 percent, plus the 2.5 percent PPRT, for 6 percent.

…Adding… From Irma…

Hi, Rich. I noted your response to Matt Noonan. The PPRT applies at the rate of 1.5% to partnerships, trusts, and S-corps. So to Mr. Noonan’s point, he would be paying 6.5% compared to his competitors 6%. Just thought you would want to know that the PPRT doesn’t apply just to C-corps. - Rob

Rob Karr, President & CEO
Illinois Retail Merchants Association

* Kadner gets the last word

Whether Madigan is serious or not, his announcement is going to make it very hard for any Democrat to call for an extension of the temporary personal income tax hike that’s set to expire at the end of the year.

How can you give corporations in Illinois a $500 million to $750 million tax cut this year ($1.5 billion over two years) and then tell individual taxpayers they have to pick up the tab? […]

I don’t really care what his motivation or intent is at this point.

Madigan, who’s also the state Democratic Party chairman, has said corporations deserve a tax break. No matter how that plays out, I don’t want to hear him say anything about extending the personal income tax hike for the good of the state.

As for Democratic legislators, who repeatedly have supported Madigan for speaker of the House, they better understand what this means to voters in November. No switching the debate to a graduated income tax now.

I’ve tried to be a voice of reason, but unlike our elected officials, I can’t tell working stiffs to give more to the state when corporations and lawmakers play them for suckers.

Give us all a tax break now.

As for the financial consequences, hey, that’s never been a concern to political leaders in Illinois.

- Posted by Rich Miller   19 Comments      


Caption contest!

Friday, Jan 31, 2014

* A Bill Brady Facebook ad…

- Posted by Rich Miller   49 Comments      


Tribune headline: “Records cast doubt on any strong link between GOP candidate, convicted power broker”

Friday, Jan 31, 2014

* Tribune reporters took a look at Bruce Rauner’s alleged ties to convicted influence peddler Stu Levine. They came up with pretty much nothing. Some highlights

But a closer look at the available details suggests any such connection is tenuous at best, starting with this fact: Records show Rauner’s firm, GTCR Golder Rauner, took its ownership stake in CompDent in 1999 — three years after CompDent’s arrangement with Levine was inked. […]

But Rauner said he had no idea at the time that Levine had any connection to CompDent, which by then had changed its name to CompBenefits.

“The emphatic answer is absolutely not — I did not,” Rauner told the Tribune, adding that he knew nothing about Levine until two years later when criminal allegations against him surfaced in news reports.

Rauner said he made no attempt to understand who the TRS board members were because they served largely as rubber stamps for recommendations made by staffers at the pension agency. “They’re sitting behind these big desks half asleep,” Rauner said. […]

Rauner said he has been asked how he could not know about Levine given the lucrative contract he held with a GTCR subsidiary. He said GTCR at the time financed about 400 companies and had an ownership interest in 60 or 70 of them. He sat on the board of eight or nine, and he was not on the CompBenefits board. He said among all the companies there were probably 350 executives at Levine’s pay level.

“I would probably know 10 percent of those, maybe,” he said.

* I, too, have checked into this a bit and came up with no hard evidence as of yet. There’s smoke, but no hard evidence of a raging fire.

So, on the one hand, it’s good to see the Tribune not jumping to wild conclusions about a politician, as they’ve so often done with others. They almost never take a candidate’s word for anything.

Maybe that’s a new trend.

* On the other hand, it’s been clear for a long time that Stu Levine was no “rubber stamp” for TRS board staff on at least some issues where he had an, um, interest. And nobody at Rauner’s tightly managed company knew they just happened to have a TRS board member on the payroll somewhere at a time when that same guy was giving them trouble over a TRS investment pitch?

So, let’s just hope, for the Tribune’s sake, that this doesn’t turn into another 1998. In the weeks leading up to that November election, stories were raging in other news outlets about George Ryan’s license for bribes scandal. The Tribune ran a front page story about how difficult it was for truckers to get a commercial drivers license.

* But, again, I haven’t found any fire, either, and I’m still not convinced this is truly a major scandal. So far, it’s all political speculation. I’ve tried to reach out to Levine’s attorney for a while now with no success. I doubt the convict will talk, however. Why open up a whole new can of worms for himself?

- Posted by Rich Miller   35 Comments      


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* Is broadcaster Stephen A. Smith the ‘voice of reason’ standing up for our freedom to express ourselves?
* 'Superior Donuts' Series Set In Uptown Coming To CBS
* Pilot For 'Superior Donuts' TV Series Set In Uptown Being Filmed For CBS
* “The Driver’s Side” – News From The Motorist’s Perspective
* Fish Fry Friday, Half-Price Happy Hour, and Other Daily Specials At Crew
* La Ciudad Brings Music To Your Dining Experience With Strolling Mariachis
* State Rep. Cassidy speaks about GED classes in the IDOC
* The PI Week In Review
* February 16 fundraiser for Frank Andreou


* Emergency Management Officials, National Weather Service Encourage Winter Preparedness - November is Winter Weather Preparedness Month in Illinois
* Keep Your Family Safe This Winter - November through February are leading months for carbon monoxide related incidents
* Governor Takes Bill Action
* Illinois Department of Labor Director Hugo Chaviano Awards Governor’s Award for Contributions in Health and Safety to the Illinois Refining Division of Marathon Petroleum Company LP
* State Regulator Elected Treasurer of Interstate Medical Licensure Compact




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