* The Tribune reports today that former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell put in a good word for Bruce Rauner’s investment company with state pension systems after Rauner contributed $300,000 to Rendell’s campaign…
“What happened is what I would do with anyone who gave me money,” said Rendell, who pointed out that he didn’t control pension officials. “I would say to the pension boards … I’d just say, ‘Listen, this is a company that I know is doing good things.’ I knew Bruce’s company was very successful. I said, ‘Take a look at them.’ And that was the best I could do.” […]
“I didn’t control the votes, but by opening up access it always helped. No question about it,” Rendell said. “But believe me, every hedge fund, every handler that invests money in the country has that same relationship.”
That’s not exactly pay to play, and Rendell didn’t ever say that Rauner asked for help or even mentioned it. But the Quinn campaign made the most of it today via press release…
Rauner Caught Red Handed Profiting From Pay-to-Play
Another Day, Another Pay-to-Play Scandal for Bruce Rauner
CHICAGO – The Chicago Tribune today confirmed a longstanding allegation: billionaire Bruce Rauner profited from pay-to-play when seeking business from the Pennsylvania State Employee Retirement System. Rauner - who was head of GTCR at the time - made massive campaign contributions of $300,000 to the future Governor of Pennsylvania’s 2002 campaign. Soon after, Rauner doubled his company’s business from the Pennsylvania pension system, amounting to a $4 million profit for his firm.
Senator Kirk Dillard had pushed for answers to the pay-to-play allegations in the Republican primary against Rauner. But it wasn’t until yesterday that the people of Illinois finally got an answer.
Up to now, Rauner had claimed that he never discussed pension business with Rendell, a point in direct contrast to what the former Governor of Pennsylvania told the Chicago Tribune in an interview yesterday.
“This is extremely disturbing,” said Quinn for Illinois Communications Director Brooke Anderson. “As Billionaire Bruce Rauner is running around Illinois railing against ‘Springfield’s pay-to-play culture,’ we have yet more proof of Rauner engaging in that exact behavior.
“One thing we know - this is how Bruce Rauner operates. When it comes to getting public pension business, it’s anything goes.
“This underlines why he and his firm GTCR should immediately refund all fees they collected from the Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System after deceiving the Board of Trustees.”
This is not the first time Rauner has been caught red handed engaging in pay-to-play to benefit himself.
In 2003, Rauner’s firm was awarded a deal worth $50 million from the Illinois Teachers’ Retirement System. Later, an investigation revealed that a company owned by Rauner’s firm was secretly paying $25,000 a month to a board member of that retirement system - Stuart Levine - who helped Rauner get the $50 million deal. And Rauner never disclosed that. That same board member, Levine, was later convicted for corruption.
Governor Quinn has called for Rauner to return the handsome fees his company was paid.
* The Rauner campaign’s response to the Tribune…
“After dining with Pat Quinn less than two months ago, Democrat Ed Rendell is now making wild accusations that fly in the face of reason and indisputable facts. Pennsylvania began investing in GTCR six years before he became governor and approved four separate investments prior to Rendell taking office,” Schrimpf said in an email.
“Bruce and Rendell never discussed pension business but did discuss Bruce’s passion for education reform in Chicago and the need for nationwide coordination of reform efforts,” Schrimpf said. “It’s clear that national Democrats are closing ranks around the worst governor in America and will say anything to try and save him. Pathetic.” […]
Asked whether Rauner had any idea when he made donations to Rendell that the Democrat would one day talk up GTCR to pension officials, Schrimpf said: “Let me be clear. Answer is no.”