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Rauner won’t answer questions about his own possible conflict of interest

Wednesday, Jul 26, 2017

* You’ll recall this from yesterday

Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan deliberately advances policies that promote high property taxes out of a “stunning conflict of interest” that has made him wealthy, Gov. Bruce Rauner charged Monday.

In a harsh broadside that likely previews a re-election campaign strategy to target the house speaker, Rauner said, “Madigan for his own reasons is a fan of high property taxes.” […]

Asked to clarify, the governor did not offer specifics but pointed to the legal work on property tax appeals conducted by Madigan & Getzendanner, the Chicago law firm Madigan co-founded in 1972.

* Bernie Schoenburg pointed out to the governor today that he had vetoed an income tax increase that would’ve personally cost him “millions of dollars.” Wasn’t that also a conflict of interest? The governor’s response

Bernie, when a person who sets tax policy and has controlled it for 35 years, also controls a property tax appeal law firm that fundamentally makes money from the property tax policy in a way that systematically disadvantages the families of Illinois. That is wrong. Our system is broken. It’s fundamentally unfair.

Bernie tried to follow up to get him to answer the actual question, but Rauner moved on and the other reporters let him.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

50 Comments
  1. - Reality Check - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 12:15 pm:

    Same deal with Rauner’s tapdancing about Trumpcare, from which he’d personally profit from the end of a tax on wealthy investors. That cut would be worth more than $6 million a year to Rauner.

    When asked about it before, Rauner’s office has promised reporters they’d get back to them later - which they’ve never done.


  2. - MOON - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 12:19 pm:

    Madigan has nothing to do with setting real estate tax policy.


  3. - illini - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 12:21 pm:

    === but Rauner moved on and the other reporters let him. ===

    As is the case 99.5% of the time.

    Why even bother asking BVR any questions?


  4. - PublicServant - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 12:23 pm:

    ===…possible conflict of interest===

    Possible. And I suppose it’s possible that the sun will rise tomorrow too. Although most would say both are certain. But possible works too, I guess.


  5. - The Captain - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 12:23 pm:

    When you say “that fundamentally makes money from …” you’re just a person who says “fundamentally” too much.


  6. - Chicagonk - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 12:29 pm:

    Probably because it is a dumb question. Madigan and the Chicago Dems would be wise to change the topic on this one.


  7. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 12:32 pm:

    ===Madigan and the Chicago Dems would be wise to change the topic on this one.===

    Mike Madigan and the Bernie Schoenburgs he controls. As if. Lol.


  8. - Slash and Burn - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 12:32 pm:

    The governor consistently, and purposely, forgets the property tax rates and levies are set by the locals. The state has capped those rates through PTELL.


  9. - Joe M - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 12:33 pm:

    Property taxes are not determined by Madigan or the General Assembly. Property taxes are the domain of local government entities. Rauner likes to distort the distinction between property taxes and state taxes to suit his propaganda needs.


  10. - Taxes - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 12:35 pm:

    How is him vetoing a tax hike a conflict of interest? Because he’s rich? By that logic wouldn’t Rauner not be able to vote on any tax issue?


  11. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 12:35 pm:

    The reform bill does nothing to assessments, which is what property tax appeals (most of them anyway) are based on


  12. - WingGirl - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 12:36 pm:

    Arguably, passage of SB1 relieves some of the upward pressure on property tax increases. Given that the current crisis involves a school funding reform package that funnels additional money to property-poor districts (and, of course, the people living in these districts tend to have the highest effective property tax rates in the state - giving them additional incentive to fight those taxes), it seems Rauner made the case that Madigan is working **against** his own interests, not for.


  13. - Give Me A Break - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 12:37 pm:

    “Madigan and the Chicago Dems would be wise to change the topic on this one.”

    Please share your profound wisdom on why they should.


  14. - Chairman McBroom - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 12:38 pm:

    Apples and oranges. The premise of the question is ridiculous to begin with. How can any lawmaker, whether they earn peanuts or billions, be expected to support/oppose tax hike legislation? Wouldn’t any side on that issue be a conflict in varying degrees?


  15. - Connie - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 12:39 pm:

    Surprisingly terrible analogy from Bernie, unless elected officials can no longer advocate for policies that benefit their constituents (since the official would also benefit). Of course, if the Speaker were simply trying to help his constituents navigate the appeals process or pass laws that treated his constituents fairly, people wouldn’t call it a conflict.

    Rauner makes a tactical error by trying to suss out a conflict based on Madigan’s influence in setting state law. The actual conflict is in Madigan’s role in Cook County Dem slating and fundraising for Assessor, Board of Review, judges, etc.


  16. - Texas Red - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 12:41 pm:

    All Illinois residents that have earnings pay state income taxes. A relative tiny percent of Illinois residents practice property tax appeal law. A silly comparison.


  17. - RNUG - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 12:42 pm:

    Every politician has conflicts of interest. The politically savvy ones are honest enough to admit it. And the smart ones still vote for the best interests of the State (and their district when it doesn’t conflict).


  18. - Fixer - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 12:44 pm:

    Instead of responding to the actual question, he danced his way back into campaign rhetoric. A couple comments here have given perfectly acceptable answers to the actual question (even if I disagree with them on it not being a conflict of interest).

    Guv, step up and actually answer a question.


  19. - Precinct Captain - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 12:45 pm:

    More Rauner word salad. Must’ve been $10 for 10 this week.


  20. - Lamont - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 12:47 pm:

    Governor Duct-and-Dodge.


  21. - illini97 - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 12:51 pm:

    Seriously, do we need a Statewide primer on property taxes? Who sets the rates, who sets the assessments, how are they calculated and what do they fund? What does one due to reduce them?

    The Governor either doesn’t understand property taxes or is manipulating those who do not understand property taxes. And I don’t think the Governor is an unintelligent man. So…

    Republicans always claim to be about local control, except when they’re not.


  22. - Chicagonk - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 12:53 pm:

    @Give Me A Break - Because it’s a losing topic. I don’t see why this is so difficult to understand. Rauner would much rather the focus be on “conflicts of interest” than budget or school funding issues.


  23. - Texas Red - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 12:59 pm:

    Local control would be part of the GOP property tax proposal. Local citizens could vote to increase the levy for any taxing body that can convince them to.


  24. - Trapped in the 'burbs - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 1:00 pm:

    The real news will be the day that Rauner actually answers a question.


  25. - Lucky Pierre - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 1:00 pm:

    Any Governor would personally benefit from vetoing a permanent income tax hike as they all would pay income taxes.

    Is the implication that Rauner ran for Governor and spent 50 million dollars just this cycle alone to lower his own taxes?

    How does the math work on that Bernie?

    There is no comparison to the Madigan situation


  26. - Henrico - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 1:00 pm:

    This is a Democrat tactic to use against wealthy GOP office holders.
    “You want to lower taxes to personally profit!”
    The easiest way to avoid paying high taxes in Illinois is just to move to Florida or Texas or Indiana. Lots of people are doing it. Not Rauner.
    Some of us are glad Rauner is using his personal wealth to fight for us.


  27. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 1:04 pm:

    ===Is the implication that Rauner ran for Governor and spent 50 million dollars just this cycle alone to lower his own taxes?===

    Rauner did make $187+ million last year. “More” than he claimed he made running up to being governor and the tax not sunsetting yet.

    Then again, Rauner is “retired”, living on a modest $187+ million made a year, lol


  28. - DeseDemDose - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 1:11 pm:

    LOL. Rauner, the Koch’s, Griffen and Uhlein are using there personal wealth to fight for Henrico.


  29. - Anon - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 1:12 pm:

    Wait, are all 177 members of the General Assembly supposed to not vote on income tax issues because it might be a conflict of interest? This seems like an absurd conclusion implied by Bernie. Every working person in Illinois would have a conflict of interest, including every member of the General Assembly who takes a salary. On the other hand how many property tax attorneys/firms are there in the state of Illinois? A few hundred at most? The entire state’s working population isn’t a conflict of interest but a few hundred property tax attorneys could be.


  30. - A Jack - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 1:18 pm:

    Certainly if there is a millionaire tax amendment that Rauner fights, that could be a conflict of interest. Perhaps the GA can put that tax on the agenda for the spring session?


  31. - Curl of the Burl - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 1:21 pm:

    DDD - you may not feel that way but some of us do. My wife and I make about $100,000 a year. We are not exactly wealthy. The recent increase is exactly what after care is going to cost us per month. So yeah…for me and others perhaps the wealthy fighting against tax increases is not as bad as you make it out to be. If you want to pay our extra 1.2% please let me know. It would be a load off.


  32. - Pundent - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 1:32 pm:

    =There is no comparison to the Madigan situation=

    So what exactly is the Madigan “situation”. He has a practice appealing assessments i.e., the value ascribed to properties. Now if Madigan was the assessor and simultaneously ran a legal practice contesting assessments there would be a clear conflict. But failing that I don’t comprehend the “situation”.

    Maybe Bernie’s analogy is flawed but the same can be said about Rauner’s. And isn’t that the point that’s being made here?


  33. - Just Me - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 1:39 pm:

    Taken just one step further, under Bernie’s premise than any piece of legislation ever voted on is a conflict of interest. Stupid question.


  34. - Arsenal - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 1:43 pm:

    ==So what exactly is the Madigan “situation”.==

    Indeed. The connection between Madigan’s actions as a lawmaker and his side hustle are so attenuated that any other legislator with a second income stream would have similar conflicts. If that kind of connection “conflicts out” a potential public servant, we’ll be stuck with nothing but the professional political class.

    Which I’m not altogether opposed to. But I suspect the “Fire Madigan!” guys are.


  35. - X-prof - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 1:45 pm:

    Curl of the Burl — Please look at the overall IL tax system, not just one part. Your total state and local tax rate (income tax, property tax, plus state and local sales tax) is likely in excess of 10%, governor Rauner’s total rate is under 4% (I’ve run the numbers). Does that seem fair to you?

    Rauner fights for tax policies that keep the income tax low and flat. That leads to higher property taxes and sales taxes (which hardly affect his rate). His policies are good for him, not for you.

    Warren Buffet is an example of a wealthy person advocating for the middle class. Bruce Rauner is not. To be fair, the Dem leadership doesn’t have the best record either, but not nearly as bad as Rauner.


  36. - Louis G. Atsaves - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 1:51 pm:

    Asking the Governor if a veto of a tax hike could be considered a “conflict of interest.” Interesting? Not.

    How about the conflict of interests of all the House and Senate members that voted for or against the income tax increases? Other tax increases in that bill, for or against? No “conflicts” there.

    Under that definition of “conflict of interest” how could any revenue bills ever be voted upon by legislators and signed/vetoed by governors?

    Just asking.


  37. - Curl of the Burl - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 1:51 pm:

    Prof - not really. I purposely bought a home with low property taxes because we decided to send our kids to private schools. That has helped tremendously. I could not care less about “fairness”.

    And if Mr. Buffet wants to cut a bigger check to the feds then he can go ahead and do so. He can even have a press conference to announce it.


  38. - X-prof - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 1:57 pm:

    Your sales taxes likely still put you at a considerable disadvantage relative to the governor.

    If you don’t care about fairness, we’re not on the same page about what good government looks like, so it’s probably pointless to continue this.


  39. - Curl of the Burl - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 1:59 pm:

    Prof - please be clear that I DO NOT CARE ABOUT TAX FAIRNESS. The recent increase is going to put a crimp in our ability to pay our family’s bills. Period.


  40. - illini97 - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 2:02 pm:

    == Texas Red “Local control would be part of the GOP property tax proposal. Local citizens could vote to increase the levy for any taxing body that can convince them to.” ==

    Raising the rate already requires local voting. And the rate is levy/EAV. So raising the levy at a pace that outstrips EAV growth already requires a local vote when residents vote on propositions to change the max rate a district can charge. What does the GOP proposal do to change this?


  41. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 2:07 pm:

    ===Local control would be part of the GOP property tax proposal===

    By state law requiring?

    Hmm. That doesn’t sound like local control at all.


  42. - Texas Red - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 2:34 pm:

    PTELL allows a constant increase in levy amounts, CPI or 5% whichever is less. First point, prices for goods/services are transitory based on geography and yet the state uses All urban CPI - a huge flaw. Secondly when the economy as whole tanks as it did in 2008, private sector industrial and service firms had to reign in spending. Not so for the local taxing bodies. A better system would assume that the current levy is sufficient to fund operations; let the administration of taxing bodies figure out how to pay bills within that budget. When the time comes that efficiency can no longer be realized; the citizens should be petitioned to raise the levy.


  43. - Roman - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 2:41 pm:

    == but Rauner moved on and the other reporters let him.==

    The press corps goes fetal again.


  44. - X-prof - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 2:45 pm:

    Curl - one last try, dropping the word ‘fair’.

    A point we can perhaps agree on is that the recent income tax increase does nothing to fix our broken revenue system in ways that would lower your overall taxes and make it easier to for you to pay your bills. It’s a straight tax increase that is especially painful for middle-class taxpayers. (It really won’t affect the Rauners’ lifestyle.)

    We disagree that Rauner is/was fighting against the tax increase. He’s been fighting for his Turnaround Agenda. If he could get a yes on that he’d immediately go green on the income tax increase. You’d feel about the same pain as you do now.

    Looking forward, true revenue reform, in which the wealthy pay the same overall rate as others, would enable lower overall taxes on middle-class taxpayers that would make it easier for you to pay your bills. Rauner is opposed to that kind of reform.

    The top 1% commands 25% of the personal income in this state. The top 10% get 50%. Middle class taxpayers, including you, are subsidizing the low tax rates the wealthy currently enjoy on those major chunks of IL personal income. Fixing that unfairness (sorry) would make it easier for your family to pay its bills and save for the future.


  45. - Curl of the Burl - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 2:53 pm:

    Prof - nope. I disagree. Officials will always want more. So an increase to the top is not a guarantee against an eventual increase to all.


  46. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 3:01 pm:

    Texas Red:

    You vote for local representation. If you don’t like the decisions they make then vote for someone else.

    Also, this constant comparison between the public and private sectors is just silly. They do not, nor can they, operate in the same way.


  47. - Anon - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 3:31 pm:

    Or lowering the states bond rating status so his friends can buy them at a goof guaranteed rated of return.

    Most investment firms are not allowed to buy them because they have policy but a wealthy individual can buy whatever they want. I really feel like this should be brought up more.

    Super wealthy love Rauner


  48. - X-prof - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 3:59 pm:

    Cur — The amount of revenue and spending, as in big vs small government, is a separate question that will always be with us. The question I thought we were discussing is whether the middle class should pay a higher rate than the wealthy at any given revenue level.

    OK, signing off here.


  49. - X-prof - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 4:00 pm:

    Sorry, that should have been Curl.


  50. - illini97 - Wednesday, Jul 26, 17 @ 4:10 pm:

    == Texas Red “PTELL allows a constant increase in levy amounts, CPI or 5% whichever is less. First point, prices for goods/services are transitory based on geography and yet the state uses All urban CPI - a huge flaw. Secondly when the economy as whole tanks as it did in 2008, private sector industrial and service firms had to reign in spending. Not so for the local taxing bodies. A better system would assume that the current levy is sufficient to fund operations; let the administration of taxing bodies figure out how to pay bills within that budget. When the time comes that efficiency can no longer be realized; the citizens should be petitioned to raise the levy.” ==

    Not every county is under PTELL. I know mine is not. Not every county allowed their levy to rise or even stay flat in 2008-present. I know my municipality reduced spending, as did the school district and township.

    It sounds as though your representation on local boards is not doing what you’d like them to do. You could vote them out or run yourself rather than asking the State to come in and control them.

    I, for one, don’t want the State dictating how my Village Board or School Board run anymore than they already do.


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