* From the Bruce Rauner campaign…
Bruce Rauner today called for openness and transparency in the application process for Illinois medical marijuana licensing. Recent media reports have shined a light on Pat Quinn’s effort to block public access to information regarding Illinois medical marijuana facility license applicants. The legislation enabling the sale of medical marijuana makes the applications for companies vying for facility licenses “secret.”
“My message to Pat Quinn is this: Governor, the jig is up. Stop this rigged process before it moves forward any further,” Rauner said. “The application process for medical marijuana should not be held in secret where insiders win and taxpayers lose; it should be open and transparent.”
Under legislation signed by Pat Quinn, 22 licenses will be issued by the Illinois Department of Agriculture for “cultivation centers” that are legally allowed to grow medical marijuana. The Department of Financial and Professional Regulation will issue 60 licenses for medical marijuana dispensaries. By statute, Pat Quinn’s administration will get to pick the winners and losers for both types of licenses.
Enter Quinn’s former chief of staff, Jack Lavin. During Tuesday’s televised Chicago Tribune gubernatorial debate, Pat Quinn was pressed to explain who in his office recommended illegal patronage hires to the Illinois Department of Transportation. Quinn pointed the finger at his former chief of staff and best friend, Jack Lavin. A federal grand jury also recently subpoenaed Lavin’s email as part of the U.S. Attorney’s investigation into Quinn’s failed anti-violence program. After signing off on illegal hires at IDOT, Lavin is now representing one of the potential medical marijuana applicants. Last week, Bruce called on Quinn to direct all state agencies to refuse lobbying efforts from Lavin.
“The medical marijuana process is straight out of the Rod Blagojevich playbook,” said Bruce Rauner. “Instead of a non-transparent program manipulated by Pat Quinn’s cronies, we should auction off licenses to the highest qualified bidder, with full disclosure of each company’s financial interests.”
The Illinois General Assembly should pass new legislation authorizing a competitive and transparent process for pre-approved applicants to bid on medical marijuana growing and dispensary licenses, ensuring appropriate safeguards for intellectual property, financial and security capabilities and detailed information on the financial interests of bidders. Winning participants unable to meet the terms set forward by the state would lose their license, allowing the state to competitively rebid for services.
* But according to a Democratic backgrounder, Rauner has his own connections to med-mar investors…
Turns out 2 of Rauner’s top supporters - Steve Denari and Tom Cronin are trying to cash in on medical marijuana big time:
Steve Denari is on the Board of Democrats and Independents for Rauner SuperPac: http://www.bnd.com/2014/04/15/3162876_carl-officer-forms-superpac-to.html
Denari is also the Chief political strategist of Democrats and Independents for Rauner, Denari and Tom Cronin, the River Forest Republican Committeeman got together to start a fund to give loans to companies starting marijuana businesses. They are trying to raise between $50 and 100 Million [according to Crain’s Chicago Business]
…Adding… It doesn’t appear that the SuperPAC mentioned above (via the Belleville News Democrat) has yet been formed. However, Denali says in the article that he backs Rauner and Cronin is a Rauner contributor.
* From Crain’s…
Prairie Wellness Fund originally intended to raise about $50 million to meet demand in Illinois, but after announcing its plans earlier this month the level of interest among potential applicants has increased its goal to “somewhere between $50 million and $100 million,” said Mr. Denari, who is CEO of Political Action League and chief political strategist for Democrats and Independents for Rauner, a super PAC formed by East St. Louis Mayor Carl Officer. In 1994, Mr. Denari was the Democratic opponent of former House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert after chairing Texas billionaire Ross Perot’s 1992 presidential campaign in the Chicago area.
The organizers of Prairie Wellness Fund are still gauging demand and aren’t yet soliciting investors until they prepare and issue a private placement memorandum, probably around Sept. 1. They plan to seek investors only from Illinois, primarily wealthy individuals and family-run investment pools.
In addition to the short-run opportunity of providing loans and letters of credit for applicants, there may be long-term financing needs to get marijuana businesses up and running. With plans to charge interest rates of about 24 percent, Mr. Griffin said returns to investors should range somewhere above 20 percent, net of fees and before taxes. […]
“If anybody can’t afford 2 percent a month in this business, you don’t want them,” Mr. Denari said. “There’s something wrong with their business model.”
That’s a pretty hefty vig, if you ask me.
*** UPDATE *** From Illinois NORML…
Illinois NORML (National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws) is appalled that Bruce Rauner wants to delay the application process for the dispensary and cultivation center licenses of the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program by having the Illinois legislature pass a new law regarding transparency and bidding in the application process. Medical cannabis patients have been waiting for years for the bill to pass and have now had to wait months for the agencies to adopt rules and regulations that would guarantee a professional program to help ensure that program will eventually be made permanent.
Dan Linn, Executive Director of Illinois NORML commented, “Bruce Rauner essentially told every cancer, ALS and Multiple Sclerosis patient in Illinois that they are now pawns in his political game. If he wanted to comment on this law or any aspect of the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program he could have done so during the public comment period of the draft rules or at any of the three town hall meetings that took place over the summer. By calling for a delay in the application process and the issuing of cultivation and dispensing licenses now, he is telling seriously ill patients that they should wait longer to get access to this medical treatment.”
The fact that Bruce Rauner wants to auction off licenses to the highest bidder shows how familiar he is with using his vast fortune to squash attempts for small businesses and entrepreneurs to gain a foothold in an industry. Medical cannabis patients should not have to wait any longer to get access to this medicine, as many are struggling to survive and are in constant pain; to use them as a tool for political leverage is disgusting. Furthermore, the pilot program is set to expire in less than four years and medicine will probably only be available for less than three years of that time, so any further delay is going to negatively impact the health of many patients who are eagerly awaiting safe and legal access to this medicine.
“Mr. Rauner has now demonstrated his lack of compassion for those who are seeking relief through the use of medical cannabis.” Linn added.
Illinois NORML also noted Rauner’s lack of familiarity with the law since as written it is designed to cost the taxpayers of Illinois nothing and must be financially self sufficient. By claiming that the application process will cost taxpayers he has revealed his lack of understanding of one of the basic aspects of the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program.
Illinois NORML Assistant Director added, “Many Illinois patients have died while waiting for legal access to this important medicine, including some who worked for years to help pass the law but were never able to take advantage of it themselves. This proposed delay is unacceptable and patient access should be provided as soon as possible.”
*** UPDATE 2 *** From Evelyn Sanguinetti…
“As a woman living with Multiple Sclerosis, I will not allow Pat Quinn’s allies to politicize MS or any other disease in order to mask his cronyism and corruption. There is nothing that prevents medical marijuana from proceeding in an open and transparent manner except the corrupt insiders who have something to hide.”