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NYT looks at Griffin, Rauner

Monday, Nov 30, 2015

* It’s not that there’s a whole lot of new stuff in this Sunday New York Times article, but I’ve been forwarded the link a kabillion times because, I suppose, it’s in the Sunday New York Times

The richest man in Illinois does not often give speeches. But on a warm spring day two years ago, Kenneth C. Griffin, the billionaire founder of one of the world’s largest hedge funds, rose before a black-tie dinner of the Economic Club of Chicago to deliver an urgent plea to the city’s elite.

They had stood silently, Mr. Griffin told them, as politicians spent too much and drove businesses and jobs from the state. They had refused to help those who would take on the reigning powers in the Illinois Capitol. “It is time for us to do something,” he implored.

Their response came quickly. In the months since, Mr. Griffin and a small group of rich supporters — not just from Chicago, but also from New York City and Los Angeles, southern Florida and Texas — have poured tens of millions of dollars into the state, a concentration of political money without precedent in Illinois history.

Their wealth has forcefully shifted the state’s balance of power. Last year, the families helped elect as governor Bruce Rauner, a Griffin friend and former private equity executive from the Chicago suburbs, who estimates his own fortune at more than $500 million. Now they are rallying behind Mr. Rauner’s agenda: to cut spending and overhaul the state’s pension system, impose term limits and weaken public employee unions.

Read the rest if you want.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


26 Comments
  1. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 9:15 am:

    If you’re following Rich’s work since Rauner broke the seal on raising monies, there is zero new, nothing new, in the article.

    It took almost two years for “The New York Times” to get up to speed, including the $36 million they cite (and has been cited here on the blog for months) and sayin’, without sayin’, in Illinois that what this article is really about is Raunerites and non-Raunerites.

    Only two takeaways for me;

    1) Although I disagree often with the Governor, that doesn’t make me a bad Republican, just an awful Raunerite. That’s the whole point of the New York Times framing.

    2) If you’re reading Capitol Fax and the Blog, you’re about a year and half ahead of “newspaper of record”. So glad they finally “caught up”.


  2. - chi - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 9:16 am:

    It provides a good and accurate summary, which is unusual for an out-of-town paper. And the situation here maybe the clearest example of this phenomenon of the rich performing hostile takeovers of governments.


  3. - Keyrock - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 9:22 am:

    What’s scary is this is more comprehensive and getting bigger play than it gets in the State’s major media. While pieces of the season key are reported, the Chicago media hasn’t focused on the bigger picture.


  4. - Crispy - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 9:25 am:

    A bit late to the party, eh, O “newspaper of record”?

    Seems typical. NYT was way behind the eight-ball on reporting the Koch-Walker takeover of Wisconsin politics a few years ago as well.


  5. - Relocated - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 9:26 am:

    My take on the article was that the times, like many other media outlets, tend to gloss over the budget disaster as a budget impasse. The governors obstructionist tactics demand more attention and in plain language.


  6. - Anon221 - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 9:28 am:

    I wish the article had had more meat to it, but at least it is a start on the national stage. Would be nice if the staff at the NYT would do some follow-ups, especially human interest angles to show those who have been hurt the most by this “corporate model” of state government. Some of the commenters on the article (NYT site) did mention the cuts that are not being funded by court order, et. al., but it was sorely missing from the article itself. Cautionary tale for voters…


  7. - Short Memory - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 9:29 am:

    It’s like the Times completely forgets, or neglects, the focus of Griffin’s speech that night. It was primarily a call to stop exploiting the state and begin paying their fair share of taxes. Crain’s had a decent summary of him publicly calling out his peers and the discomfort it caused among many in the room.


  8. - ChicagoVinny - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 9:35 am:

    I found it a useful summary to send to in-state or out-of-state friends who might not read this blog every day, and unusual for the NY Times to mostly get an article about IL right.

    Over the holiday I had my first suburban relative, who usually votes Democratic but voted for Rauner, tell me they regretted their vote for Rauner, unprompted. Winning?


  9. - wordslinger - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 9:35 am:

    Lot of self-delusion going on here.

    Griff, Rauner and their crew hardly “stood by silent” over the years. They were major financial backers of politicians for both parties. They were the bank for the political establishment, and still are.

    They also weren’t standing by silently when they were leveraging their contributions to make a whole lot of money off of Illinois government at all levels.

    It’s just bizarre to claim that Rauner is for cutting spending. He’s the governor. He proposed a state budget with billions in deficit spending. The state is running up historic deficits that will take years to fix. Those deficits are part of his “leveraging” plan to achieve his political agenda.

    There’s nothing fiscally responsible about that tactic at all.

    As far as being “pro-business,” last I checked, businesses like to get paid for services rendered. The state is not paying its bills. How is that pro-business?

    Pay attention to what politicians do, not what they say. They often bear little relationship to each other.


  10. - VanillaMan - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 9:51 am:

    I don’t believe anything printed in the New York Times, except perhaps the date at the top of the paper, and the recipes. It is about as accurate as the Chicago Tribune or a Marvel comic.


  11. - justacitizen - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 9:53 am:

    If I want to know something about IL politics, I’m not looking to the NYT.


  12. - Solid Dwight - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 10:01 am:

    Rich,
    Truly, nothing new here.
    BUT, to a whole lot of people, the NYT succinctly writes the type of story no news organization in Illinois seems capable of writing and producing.
    It says to the world that a small group of billionaires and millionaires are running Illinois.
    Is it better than we had?
    Hard to say.
    But as the story points out, a whole lot of people are about to get their oxen gored because Zell, Griffin, Rauner money indeed now owns Illinois government —
    AND IT IS F’N SCARY.


  13. - veritas - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 10:01 am:

    A little late to the party - but the article does a fairly good job of summarizing events to date.

    You must realize that much of the country either doesn’t care about Illinois or believes we have gotten what we deserve.


  14. - Almost the Weekend - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 10:16 am:

    This was a great article, it’s unfortunate the Tribune couldn’t write an article like this.


  15. - Mouthy - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 10:28 am:

    ” Public employee unions, assured that the state’s Constitution made their retirement benefits untouchable, focused on lobbying for other spending. By last year, the state owed billions more in unpaid bills.”

    Didn’t like how this statement was worded. Misleading in my book..


  16. - Adam Smith - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 10:53 am:

    This isn’t so much a profile of the Rauner admin as it is another NYT indictment of the “1%.”

    What’s more, it is nonsensical. It accuses the rich of using nefarious loopholes to secretly take over the political realm. But wasn’t the “fact” that the “1%” controlled everything already the basis of the Occupy Wall Street silliness?

    Did the NYT examine Rauner’s ties to the Trilateral Commission and the Freemasons too?

    Oh, one more thing…Not a single word about uber-rich Democrats trying to impose their will on their party (Tom Streyer anyone???).


  17. - Arthur Andersen - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 11:43 am:

    tl:dr.


  18. - Capitol View - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 12:51 pm:

    The 1%ers continue to flex their muscles, preferably away from the media and the public, but occasionally a bit of their power plays slips through…


  19. - History Prof - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 1:46 pm:

    Dear Adam Smith,

    Have you actually read the book you published back in 1776? From your posts, the answer would seem to be ‘no.’ Start with “On the Wages of Labor.” The problem with “defensive combinations of workingmen,” a.k.a. labor unions, is that the magistrates (government and police) will always side with the masters, a.k.a., the wealthy employers. So the problem with Unions for the real Adam Smith was NOT that they were not a good idea, it was because he believed wealthy people would always own the government and would always crush them. Read your own book!


  20. - Jeff Trigg - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 2:01 pm:

    OMG, everybody run, the oligarchs are coming, the oligarchs are coming. That seems to be a popular response to this article from people with less knowledge of IL, glad to see there isn’t much of it here.

    First thing that stood out to me, is that Michael Madigan isn’t even mentioned once in this article. An article trying to paint a picture of the political power structure in Illinois that doesn’t even mention Madigan? Sure, dude.

    While I’m sure the money and names are accurate, this article only looks at one side of the campaign money equation, for one election, for one office. And from that we have reactionaries crying oligarchy, oligarchy? No.

    The money and people in that article, as everyone here knows, do not have all the power. If the NY Times wants to paint an accurate picture they should go back through all the political money the past 30 years for the 177 GA seats and state officers and get back to us.


  21. - jake - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 2:48 pm:

    I thought the article was fair and accurate, and emphasized the most important things. Also better than any other single summary news piece on what has happened, and is happening, here.

    As for the complainers about too little and too late–sorry to break the news to you, but Illinois is only one of fifty states. What is of cosmic importance to us is only one piece (although a significant piece) of a pattern of what is happening across the nation–political power as a commodity for sale on an enormous scale.


  22. - Anonin' - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 3:53 pm:

    Pretty funny that the NYT treats handoutAndy and the BGA like they are reformers…when they are Rauner funded.
    Also failed to note The SuperStars have invested about $1.6 million in tax dollars to rent 3 legislative votes — that a shakin’ we did not need.


  23. - Anonymous - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 4:11 pm:

    ==First thing that stood out to me, is that Michael Madigan isn’t even mentioned once in this article. An article trying to paint a picture of the political power structure in Illinois that doesn’t even mention Madigan? Sure, dude.==

    This. Illinoisans should be alarmed about a few people trying to take over and run the State? That’s the way things have always been here…including one family controlling Legislators and the AG office for well over a decade


  24. - Toffee - Monday, Nov 30, 15 @ 4:14 pm:

    Yes, a lot of it is old news and it misses some things, but I thought it was a pretty good overview for an out-of-town paper. The fact that the in-state papers don’t seem capable of producing anything comparable is an indictment of them. And the NY Times seems to be trying to tie it with its larger coverage of the oligarchy issue. Your mileage may vary regarding how significant you believe that is, but it is striking how hostile the very, very rich are to government.


  25. - qualified somebody nobody sent - Tuesday, Dec 1, 15 @ 9:43 am:

    The article may be old news to readers of this site, however, the attached poll of uber wealthy Cook County residents is staggering. They have beliefs that are way out of the mainstream when it comes to entitlement programs and minimum wage. The bottom line here is the rich “donator class” only have one agenda here. That would be to protect their wealth at the expense of every working person in Illinois. Please remember that MONEY is a zero sum game and the more these have the less there is for the rest of us.


  26. - qualified somebody nobody sent - Tuesday, Dec 1, 15 @ 9:45 am:

    The article may be old news to readers of this site, however, the attached poll of uber wealthy Cook County residents is staggering. They have beliefs that are way out of the mainstream when it comes to entitlement programs and minimum wage. The bottom line here is the rich “donator class” only have one agenda here. That would be to protect their wealth at the expense of every working person in Illinois. Please remember that MONEY is a zero sum game and the more these few donators have the less there is for the rest of us.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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