* Dave McKinney disappeared from the Sun-Times for several days after the paper ran his piece about Bruce Rauner’s alleged threat to “bury” a former female CEO. Crain’s has some of the back-story…
A Chicago Sun-Times reporter hired former federal prosecutor Patrick Collins to investigate whether the campaign of Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner tried to interfere with his employment after the newspaper ran a story unfavorable to the politician.
Mr. Collins said in an interview with Crain’s that the Rauner campaign attempted to retaliate against Sun-Times political reporter Dave McKinney after the paper ran the story about Mr. Rauner allegedly verbally threatening a top executive of a company controlled by Mr. Rauner’s onetime investment firm. Mr. Rauner denied that report through a spokesman. […]
The Rauner campaign attempted to have the Sun-Times take action against Mr. McKinney because of what it alleged were conflicts of interest stemming from Mr. McKinney’s marriage to Democratic media consultant Ann Liston, Mr. Collins said.
Mr. McKinney and Ms. Liston were married in April, but Mr. Collins said the couple made arrangements earlier in the year at each of their jobs to create barriers within their work so that their relationship wouldn’t present conflicts of interest for Mr. McKinney, who is the paper’s bureau chief in Springfield.
“Dave McKinney has a body of work as a dogged, but fair and impartial reporter and what happened recently was an attempt to unfairly besmirch Dave’s reputation and he has asked me to evaluate whether there was an improper interference with Dave’s employment relationship with the Sun-Times,” Mr. Collins said in an interview. […]
Just hours before the Sun-Times story went to press, the Rauner campaign attempted to quash the piece by bringing up Ms. Liston’s political work with Sun-Times management even though Mr. McKinney has been covering the campaign for months, according to Mr. Collins. Mr. Collins didn’t have details on who in the Rauner campaign contacted the Sun-Times and who at the newspaper was contacted.
Mr. McKinney has also written stories that were critical of incumbent Democratic candidate Gov. Pat Quinn, specifically his involvement with the troubled state-funded Neighborhood Recovery Initiative.
In recent days, Mr. McKinney was inexplicably absent from his statehouse beat for five days despite one of the hottest gubernatorial races in recent memory
The Rauner people went after McKinney, then all of a sudden the paper decided to endorse the guy. What a coinkidink.
And, by the way, Dave’s marriage to Ann had zero to do with this story. McKinney has been beating the Quinn administration over their freaking heads about the NRI investigation all year (to the point where I’ve criticized him in the Fax). Any suggestion that he was leaning Democratic is absolutely ridiculous and insane. And the decision to sideline him, to my mind, was purely about politics.
I have my own Sun-Times Rauner story, which I plan to share with subscribers on Monday.
…Adding… Liston is not a lobbyist. She’s a flak. Big difference.
*** UPDATE *** Chicago Sun-Times Publisher/Editor-in-Chief Jim Kirk claimed to Crain’s that no action was taken against McKinney, but did say this in an updated Crain’s piece…
“Mr. Rauner’s campaign spokesman Mike Schrimpf did level allegations with me that proved inaccurate and spurious,” Mr. Kirk wrote. “Out of an abundance of caution, we did review this matter and we are convinced Dave’s wife Ann Liston receives no financial benefit from any Illinois political campaign because of the extraordinary steps they’ve taken to establish business safeguards. Dave’s body of work during this campaign, including the ground-breaking stories on the investigation involving Gov. Pat Quinn and the Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, demonstrates the hard-nosed reporting he has done on both campaigns. Both Dave and Ann are conscientious, ethical and among the best at their professions.”