* My phone rang Sunday morning. It was a good friend of mine, but I had been out late in St. Louis the night before, so I let his call go to voicemail. We talked later in the day. He said a pollster had called his house at 10 o’clock that morning and asked to speak with the female voter. His wife took the phone. She was asked something about a gun and a woman and Bruce Rauner and she couldn’t really remember what else. Did I know what was going on?
I said I didn’t. Maybe it was the Republican Party stuff with the Libertarians? I didn’t know. I also found it very weird that a pollster was calling on a Sunday morning. That never happens. Not only that, but my friend’s wife is a “hard” Republican, and the poll was full of push questions against Bruce Rauner.
So, I filed it away and figured I’d find out what was up sooner or later.
* Last night, my friend texted me that the Sun-Times had the story which was outlined in the poll. Not long after, I asked for and obtained audio of the poll from a GOP source. Here’s the question…
CALLER: Okay. These’ll be like the last three questions. So Bruce Rauner, I’m just going to read another one, Bruce Rauner lacks the character and temperament to be governor. He won’t be a governor we can trust.
He allegedly threatened to quote bury unquote a woman CEO he hired telling her quote we’ll hurt you and your family endquote. At the same firm, Rauner let threats and violence against women occur without speaking up. When told that the male executive repeatedly threatened coworkers with a gun, physically struck a secretary, Rauner said addressing it was not a high priority, was more concerned with turning a profit than the wellbeing of his employees.
* Raw audio…
* If you listen to the full thing, you’ll hear the respondent ask the pollster a question…
PERSON: Oh, and one last thing.
PERSON: Where were you calling from? I didn’t catch it in the beginning.
CALLER: We’re doing an interview down here in California.
PERSON: Oh wow, alright, cool. With what company?
CALLER: Mhm. ADG Research Group company. American Directions.
ADG is a Democratic outfit.
For the record, the Quinn campaign denies that it did the poll, but there are plenty of other Democratic organizations playing in this pond.
* And then, almost like magic, we got the Sun-Times story…
Kirk also alleged that Rauner, wary of her possibly suing, relayed a similar threat to her a few days earlier through another board member, Thomas Gilman, a consultant and ex-top executive at Chrysler Financial.
“I will bury her,” Rauner is alleged to have told Gilman. […]
Shortly before her firing, Kirk recorded a board meeting in February 2001, where discussion about the company’s precarious finances was sidetracked after she brought to the board’s attentions allegations that a LeapSource manager routinely brought a gun to work in his car, had a violent temper and had threatened to “take someone out” at work, according to a transcript in the court record.
Kirk also alleged the same employee, Matt Appel, wound up striking his secretary, causing her to quit, and posed “some big risks” to GTCR “from a litigation perspective,” the transcript shows. […]
Rauner expressed sympathy for the former secretary but also suggested LeapSource’s precarious financial condition trumped concerns about the manager and any liability related to the secretary being struck.
“In a normal operating company, there would be certainly channels on how to deal with that and no company and no civil person would want to have anything to do with an employee like that,” Rauner said at one point, according to the transcript. “The flip side is, we as a board … are you know, debating issues of whether LeapSource has its lights on on Monday. I mean, and so, you know, whether the secretary sues or not, you know, pales by comparison.”
There’s a whole lot more, so go read the whole thing.
* But the Rauner campaign pushed back hard against the story last night…
THE LEAPSOURCE LITIGATION WAS WITHOUT MERIT AND SUMMARILY DISMISSED BY A JUDGE
The Lawsuit Was Dismissed By A Federal Judge On Summary Judgment. “IT IS ORDERED that the motion for summary judgment by defendants GTCR Golder Rauner, L.L.C., GTCR Fund VI, L.P., GTCR VI Executive Fund, L.P., GTCR Associates VI, Joseph P. Nolan, Bruce V. Rauner, Daniel David A. Donnini and Philip A. Canfield (doc. 347) is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part, as hereinafter ordered.” (Order on Motion for Summary Judgment, Diane Mann, as Trustee for the Estate of LeapSource, Inc., et al., v. GTCR Golder Rauner, L.L.C. et al., U.S. District Court for Arizona, No. CIV-02-2099-PHX-RCB, 3/30/07, p. 73)
IN HER SWORN DEPOSITION, CHRISTINE KIRK DIRECTLY CONTRADICTS HER CLAIM THAT RAUNER THREATENED HER
Christine Kirk’s Complaint Alleges That, After She Was Fired As Leapsource’s CEO, Rauner Spoke To Her On The Phone And Said “If You Go Legal On Us…We’ll Hurt You And Your Family.” “During the board meeting, Rauner told Kirk to call him the next day to discuss her severance. When Rauner spoke with Kirk the next day, he threatened Kirk in a booming voice, ‘If you go legal on us [by filing a shareholder suit], we’ll hurt you and your family.’” (Plaintiff’s Fourth Amended Complaint, Diane Mann, as Trustee for the Estate of LeapSource, Inc., et al., v. GTCR Golder Rauner, L.L.C. et al., U.S. District Court for Arizona, No. CIV-02-2099-PHX-RCB, 6/14/04, p. 68)
In Her Sworn Deposition, Kirk Says The Phone Call She Referenced In Her Complaint Was “Entirely Professional.” ATTORNEY: “What did you say to Mr. Rauner and what did he say to you during that call?” CHRISTINE KIRK: “That — I said, ‘Bruce, you said to call you about my severance,’ and he said that I needed to work with Joe, that I had loans outstanding, and I needed to work with Joe on resolving those loans and the severance.” ATTORNEY: “Did he say anything else during that call?” KIRK: “Not that I recall.” ATTORNEY: “What did you say to him?” KIRK: “I told him I would do that.” ATTORNEY: “Was that call entirely professional?” … KIRK: “Yes, I believe so.” (Christine Kirk Deposition, 6/8/05, p. 999-1000)
CHRISTINE KIRK DID NOT COLLECT A PENNY IN DAMAGES
GTCR’s Settlement Agreement Explicitly States That The Settlement Payment Was For The Plaintiffs’ Out-Of-Pocket Legal Expenses – The Plaintiffs Did Not Collect A Single Penny In Damages. “The Defendants will pay $511,000.00 to settle the GTCR Litigation; the Settlement Agreement expressly provides that the GTCR/K&E Settlement Payment is being made by GTCR and K&E for the express purpose of reimbursing certain out-of-pocket expenses incurred by the Plaintiffs and by their counsel.” (Motion of Trustee and Plaintiffs to Approve Settlement with GTCR Defendants, Kirkland & Ellis, and Makings Defendants, In re: Leapsource Inc, U.S. Bankruptcy Court – District of Arizona, Case No. B 01-09020 PHX JMM, 8/12/08, p. 11)
WHEN ALLEGATIONS OF LEAPSOURCE EMPLOYEE MISCONDUCT SURFACED, RAUNER IMMEDIATELY ORDERED AN INVESTIGATION
During The February 27, 2001 LeapSource Board Meeting, Christine Kirk Accused An Employee Of Hitting His Secretary. CHRISTINE KIRK: “That’s right Dan that’s what I said. I think then I need to talk to Mike about, you know, the information we found and, you know, we get…what the lawyer just told us is that we have some big risks from a litigation perspective. The guy is at this point physically threatening people. We’re not talking about verbally assaulting them. I’m talking about he’s threatening to physically assault people.” RAUNER: “Did he hit anybody?” KIRK: “No. but he told people he’s a gun in his car, he’s told people he wants to take people out. Um he physically abused his secretary.” RAUNER: “He physically abused…what did he do?” KIRK: “He hit her.” RAUNER: “Oh, so he did hit somebody.” KIRK: “I mean…there’s…” RAUNER: “Is she still at the company?” KIRK: “No, she walked out.” (LeapSource Board Meeting, 2/27/01, p. 9)
Rauner Directed Kirk To Tell The Company’s New CEO, And That An Investigation Be Carried Out. DAN YIH: “Then aren’t we saying that Mike should review this?” KIRK: “Yeah, and that’s why I said I will go over it with Mike.” RAUNER: “That’s fair, I think it’s good….would be good if you did talk to Mike about it.” (LeapSource Board Meeting, 2/27/01, p. 9-10)
Rauner Clearly Denounced The Alleged Assault, Saying “No Company And No Civil Person Would Want To Have Anything To Do With That.” RAUNER: “Um…Chris in a normal operating company there would be certainly channels on how to deal with that and no company and no civil person would want to have anything to do with an employee like that.” (LeapSource Board Meeting, 2/27/01, p. 10)
The complete deposition referenced above is here.
* While many of the allegations in the Sun-Times story appear to be bogus or directly contradicted by other evidence, particularly since they were tossed by a judge, if Rauner loses the spin war on this thing he may very well be toast. Done. Put a fork in him. Ergo, the vigorous pushback.
* But there is one quote that stuck out for me. From a 2005 deposition taken from Bruce Rauner, with emphasis added for obvious reasons…
“That hard thing is getting customers; the hard thing is cutting expenses; the hard thing is laying people off. But that’s what good companies do when times are tough, and she just would not do it,” said Rauner, who sat on LeapSource’s board.
Hey, that really is the difficult truth about business, but people aren’t gonna want to hear it.