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Quinn plays Stu Levine card

Saturday, Sep 27, 2014

* From the Quinn campaign…

On the 2nd anniversary of the date corrupt swindler Stuart Levine went to prison, a new television ad debuted featuring Republican billionaire Bruce Rauner’s direct ties to Levine. The 30-second spot, which went up today, explains how Rauner used pay-to-play to profit from taxpayer dollars with the help of one of Illinois’ most notorious swindlers. Levine reported to prison Sept. 27, 2012.

It all started in 2003 when Rauner’s firm was awarded a deal worth $50 million from the Illinois Teachers Retirement System (TRS). Later it was revealed that a company owned by Rauner’s firm was secretly paying $25,000 a month to Levine, a TRS Board Member, who helped Rauner get the $50 million deal. And Rauner never disclosed that egregious conflict of interest to the board, a violation of his fiduciary duty.

Levine left the company only after being indicted on federal corruption charges. He later was sent to prison.

According to Levine’s testimony during the trial of Tony Rezko, his job was to get work for CompBenefits Corp., owned in part by GTCRauner, through “whatever means were needed, including payoffs.”

There is no evidence that “Rauner used pay-to-play” here. Yeah, it looks hinky on its face, but that’s a bit of a stretch, to say the least.

* The ad

* The script…

Narrator: “Billionaire Bruce Rauner was somehow able to wrangle a $50 million contract with the Illinois Teachers Retirement System. Later, an investigation revealed Rauner’s firm was secretly paying $25,000 a month to a board member who helped hand Rauner that $50 million deal. Rauner never disclosed that. Did Bruce Rauner really think, no one would find out?”

* Sun-Times

The Quinn ad follows by two weeks the release of a Rauner commercial, which ties the governor to his one-time running mate, Blagojevich, and the “corruption, patronage, cronyism, investigations, prison” associated with the ex-governor.

I’ll open comments on Monday.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - MrJM (@MisterJayEm) - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 7:17 am:

    “There is no evidence that ‘Rauner used pay-to-play’ here.”

    “Of course not, but let’s make the [gentleman farmer] deny it!” — Lyndon Baines Johnson (attributed)

  2. - BMAN - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 7:26 am:

    Ouch, that one has to sting!

  3. - VanillaMan - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 7:29 am:

    Look - we just spent millions making him look bad, so let’s see if this half-truth will stick with voters!

    Politics suck.

  4. - Sir Reel - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 7:31 am:

    As I recall Stuart and Tony were part of Rod’s downfall. Why didn’t Quinn come out against Stuart then?

  5. - AC - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 7:37 am:

    I’m astounded that the Quinn campaign has been able to maintain a coherent, focused attack ending with the same question for this long. It’s as though he has been able to overcome all his instincts that must be screaming at him to change direction from an effective strategy at this point or Look a Squirrel! Rauner’s answer seems to be to believe in himself even more strongly, donate a few million to himself, but duck press questions.

  6. - Anonymous - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 7:42 am:

    success is in the eye of the beholder

  7. - PublicServant - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 7:45 am:

    That’s how Rauner does business. Just ask Ed Rendell if you don’t believe me.

  8. - Norseman - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 7:47 am:

    Just another ad from both sides that plays fast and loose with the facts.

    Kudos to Mr.JM for the quote.

  9. - Anonymous - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 7:48 am:

    I think this is a valid point. While Quinn has more direct connections to Blago (even though they HATED each other) thru shared staff, Rauner also seems to have some “money” connections to the stuff at TRS. To me, that’s a bit more troublesome. Most insiders know Quinn wasn’t invovled in Blago’s schemes - whether or not the public believes that is another story.

  10. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 8:14 am:

    - MrJM - cones out of the box firing, well done.

    To the Post,

    All that is left is that Rauner and Quinn…worked with the other…and blame each other for hiring themselves.

    “Pat Quinn hired Bruce Rauner, how can we trust Pat Quinn?” - Rauner for Governor

    “Bruce Rauner was an ally of Pat Quinn! How can we trust Bruce Rauner?” - Taxpayers for Quinn

    That’s all that’s left…

  11. - Grandson of Man - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 8:16 am:

    Even though Rauner may not have known Levine, it’s a major conflict of interest to have someone work at one of your companies, and then you get a huge contract. It looks terrible.

    What would happen to a low-level state employee if he or she gave state business to someone with whom there’s a professional relationship?

    Rauner is an insider. Let us please dispense with the idea that he’s not.

  12. - William j Kelly - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 8:27 am:

    Chilling! Rauner is horrrrrrrrrible!

  13. - Ghost - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 8:29 am:

    Look Rauner had no idea this, or any of the other stuff was going on; in fact he did not know he wast part of GRTC; he though he was just lucky and randomly recieved money for no apparent reason….

    Who can be expected to remeber every 300,000 employee sitting on a board they want to get a 50 million investment contract from…. a meager 50 million, chump change. Just imagien the size of the investment contracts to be had if the state goes to a 401k style system, now there’s the big bucks….. Rauner should skip paying off board memebers for these pittances and run for governor and go for the whole ball of wax….

  14. - JS Mill - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 8:31 am:

    My take away is that if they both are not directly involved in corrupt activities they sure found ways to surround themselves with corruption.
    Kudos to MrJM and OW, excellent posts that really nail it.

  15. - Anonymous - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 8:34 am:

    Effective–and fair. They’re doing a masterful job of painting Rauner as a by-any-means-necessary capitalist. He’s done nothing to counter that attack, with the old van ad falling laughably short. Wordslinger’s observation the other day was dead on. The complete lack of “I’m a real guy who’s done real things to make things better for someone other than myself” spots is becoming deafening.

  16. - Peoria guy - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 8:37 am:

    Quinn’s tagline “Did Bruce Rauner really think nobody would find out” is excellent and catchy. I too an surprised the Quinn campaign has had such effective ads.

  17. - Precinct Captain - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 8:48 am:

    Quinn launched another one this weekend about 1000+ employees laid off at a Rauner firm. I think this one and that one are both effective hits.

  18. - Precinct Captain - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 8:48 am:

    ==- Peoria guy - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 8:37 am:==

    Joe Slade White ain’t nothing to sneeze at.

  19. - Steve - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 8:52 am:

    I’m glad Pat Quinn brought up Stuart Levine. Without Levine, we wouldn’t have known as much about noted “bookmaker” Rod Blagojevich. When exactly did Pat Quinn learn about Rod’s massive criminal enterprise? When Patrick Fitzgerald first came down with indictments or earlier? After all, Pat Quinn did defend Rod for a while.

  20. - wordslinger - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 8:56 am:

    Growing up in illinois, and observing how business related to government finance has been awarded over the years, I can’t easily dismiss the connections.

    Rauner was an Illinois hustler for government business. Levine was an Illinois fixer for government business. They were both players, and it’s a relatively small club.

    Their social, political and philanthropic circles had to overlap in the city and on the North Shore.

    Here’s the deal: Rauner claimed he didn’t even know who Levine was. I find that hard to believe on its face.

    Add the fact that a Rauner company had Levine on the payroll for big money to bring in business by “whatever means that were needed, including payoffs,” and it’s just not credible.

    Given our states’s notorious history, why would you believe Rauner didn’t know who Levine was or what he was all about? Another player, Rosenberg, sure knew who he was dealing with when Levine put the arm on him for pension business.

    It’s Rauner’s pattern though — in case after case, he makes all this money in business, but he has no idea how it happened. I don’t believe it.

  21. - phocion - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 8:59 am:

    Fair hit. Truth be told, I’m having some doubts about Rauner. Not just his ability to win, but who he really is. Maybe Quinn’s advertising strategy is working.

  22. - Geronimo - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 9:03 am:

    For a candidate running for office, the words “secret” and “money” should not be appearing in information about this candidate. Once in office, we know funny things happen, but to sign up for it, knowingly?

  23. - hisgirlfriday - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 9:05 am:

    Perhaps misleading to tie him so strongly to Levine.
    But definitely misleading is Rauner touting the idea he is an outsider who would shake up Springfield.

    So an excellent double hit that makes him look corrupt and a liar.

  24. - Come on man! - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 9:14 am:

    Better execution than in the primary. It was too campy then, seems in insidious now.

  25. - Anon. - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 9:35 am:

    Did Bruce Rauner really think nobody would find out?

    Does anyone think that the Governor is shocked — shocked! — to find out that there was pay-to-play in 2003?

    I’m not sure that I could vote for either of these candidates, even holding my nose.

  26. - my two cents - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 9:47 am:

    Off topic, but as I was reading comments, saw this, from the SJR.
    Because apparently, this is how he shows his love for IL.

  27. - Dirty Red - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 10:06 am:

    This might be the clearest, more direct “get to the point” Stu Levine ad.

  28. - Arthur Andersen - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 10:43 am:

    I’m not going to respond to some of the nonsense and unsupported opinion disguised as facts in comments so far. Just want to offer a couple verifiable data points that might affect how you view the truthfulness of the ad.

    1) “Somehow able to wrangle…$50 million.” Not exactly. GTCR had previously been awarded $50 million from TRS in 2000, before Levine’s term and with a different management team. GTCR in 2003 went through the same due diligence process led by an external investment consultant, and was unanimously approved for funding by the TRS Board, including the current IEA President.

    2) This issue is old news. The Sun-Times first reported upon it in 2006, when Quinn was still defending his running mate Rod. “No one would find out” because they already knew, except Team Quinn, who were in middle school at the time.

    3) Where was Quinn when Rod reappointed Stu Levine to TRS 5 weeks before the FBI raided his house? Talk about Sgt. Schultz.


  29. - Anonymous - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 11:01 am:

    springfield outside, the only thing he is outside of is a law suit

  30. - Mighty M. Mouse - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 11:18 am:

    ===2) This issue is old news.===

    Once Rauner ran the Harold Washington ad I don’t think one can legitimately make this argument on his behalf any more.

  31. - Arthur Andersen - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 11:57 am:

    Mighty, beg to differ. Agree that a 25+ year old quote about Quinn from Washington brought back (again) for the election is old news. Here, you have Quinn bringing back stuff from 2003 re: GTCR that was first reported in 2006, then 2008, then last year, and now again. What’s the difference?

  32. - Juice - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 12:29 pm:

    20 years?

  33. - ghost - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 2:35 pm:

    Arthur Andersen

    4. what was Rauner getting from levine for 25k a month?

    Rauner could kill this easily by showing levine generated millions of dollars doing something for him unrelated to securing a vote on the board.

    And AA, not to be disrespectful, but a prior 50 mil contract doesnt tell us anything. At this level you gild the lillies and leave nothing to chance; setting aside whether there was someone else getting 25k a month back in 2000. You dont want a good chance of getting the contract, you pay for a ringer.

    and since there is no explanation of what levine provided for 300k; and levine was known as the guy to pay for influence; the circumstantial evidence is pretty strong here.

  34. - Mighty M. Mouse - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 5:32 pm:

    ===What’s the difference?===

    @AA: The only difference is that the older the example, the more tenuously it is related to the present day.

    So a 30-year-old issue tends to be only a fraction as relevant as an 8-year-old issue, which makes complaining about Quinn’s issue being “old news” sound like the person complaining believes that a lack of significance because something is old news is like a one-way street that only applies to one candidate but not to the other, and that’s absurd.

    Put simply, people who live in glass houses (or raise 30-year-old issues) shouldn’t throw stones (or be criticizing 8-year-old issues as old news), or you run the risk of someone noticing that your reasoning depends on an illogical double standard.

  35. - Arthur Andersen - Monday, Sep 29, 14 @ 5:56 pm:

    Mighty, good point, well made.
    Respectfully, AA

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