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The governor’s credibility problem

Tuesday, Oct 3, 2017

* My weekly syndicated newspaper column

One reason why Gov. Bruce Rauner promised to veto HB40 last spring was to prevent a House Republican revolt on the state budget.

The bill deletes a so-called “trigger” provision in current law, which states that if the Roe v. Wade case is overturned by the US Supreme Court, Illinois would automatically revert to outlawing abortions.

There’s a dispute about whether this is needed, but the more controversial part of the bill would allow state funding of abortions through Medicaid and the state employee group health insurance program.

Everyone knew from the beginning of the two-year budget impasse that the House Republicans were the key to victory for both sides. As long as Rauner could hold them completely together, he could continue the impasse fight with the Democrats. By April, however, mutinous rumblings were growing in that caucus and one way Rauner could placate them was to swear he would veto HB40 if it ever reached his desk.

There are no remaining pro-choice Republicans in the House, and there are certainly no supporters of taxpayer funded abortions in the caucus. Legislative threats were made to the pro-choice governor that there would be holy heck to pay if he signed HB40 into law. They’d abandon him in droves and there would be nothing he could do to stop them from working with the Democrats on a budget solution. So the governor told several House Republicans to their faces that he’d veto the bill.

But then a couple of months later, some of the same House Republicans who’d been demanding an HB40 veto broke with the governor and voted for the tax hike.

That tax vote may have played into the governor’s decision to become the first American governor to sign a taxpayer-funded abortion bill into law. He may have simply decided that he wasn’t bound to his promise because the House Republicans didn’t hold their caucus together.

The trouble is, he made that veto promise to more than just the House Republicans. As Sen. Dan McConchie (R-Hawthorn Woods) pointed out after Rauner signed the bill into law, the governor made a “public commitment” to veto the bill. “His flip-flopping on this issue,”

McConchie said in a statement, “raises serious questions on whether the Governor’s word can be trusted on other matters.”

The reason this issue became such a huge crisis in the first place is that Rauner’s can’t be taken as truth. This started to become apparent on election night, when the governor claimed during his victory speech that he’d spoken to House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton even though he hadn’t.

Rauner spent more than two years traveling the state to tell everyone who would listen that he would stop the Democrats from muscling through a Chicago Public Schools “bailout,” but then he signed a bill into law that actually gave CPS more money than the Democrats had proposed.

The governor told the Chicago Tribune in the spring of 2015 that a budget crisis would give him the leverage to obtain concessions from Democrats on his pro-business, anti-union agenda, then flat-out blamed the Democrats for the next two years for creating the crisis the governor had wanted.

I mean, the man repeatedly lied about his own grandfather to score political points. The governor has claimed over and over that his “best friend” growing up had immigrated from Sweden - the last time was when he bragged about it during a speech to an immigrant rights group when he signed a bill into law restricting what the police can do to undocumented immigrants. In fact, his grandfather was born in the United States. Politifact awarded the claim its harshest rating: “Pants on fire.”

The list is just endless with this guy. When Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich publicly calls you out for breaking your promise to veto HB40, you know you have a problem.

Candidate Rauner explicitly promised the pro-choice group Personal PAC in 2014 that he would sign legislation for government-funded abortions. So the question really boiled down to who the governor would wind up lying to.

With a tax hike passed over his veto and an education funding reform plan in place, the calculation could’ve been that he just doesn’t need the House Republicans for much of anything next year.

But the governor’s campaign insists that Rauner is running for reelection. If he manages to win, he’s going to have to eventually find a way to reestablish his relationships with legislative Republicans. Time will likely heal some of these wounds within his own party, but only if he makes a genuine attempt to reestablish his credibility.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Oct 3, 17 @ 8:38 am:

    I don’t see how a guy like Rauner - a serial liar - can ever re-establish credibility. With anyone. Why would you ever trust anything he says?

  2. - JS Mill - Tuesday, Oct 3, 17 @ 8:45 am:

    Thinking people do not believe a word the governor says. Even when he is correct or truthful it has to be verified.

    Recent events have revealed how much Mrs. Rauner is involved in happenings as well. For some this may have been a surprise, but not for me. Earlier in the year an ISBE document with guidance on the upcoming (but now canceled) competitive application process for early childhood grant money, had the “Ounce of Prevention Foundation” clearly emblazoned on the bottom of the document. That indicated to me and others that Mrs. Rauner’s organization, if not her directly, was calling the shots on how the hundreds of millions of dollars would be distributed. The press never noticed and they have since changed the document to remove the “ounce” from it.

    Maybe it was nothing, but to me it was an indicator of how much influence Mrs. Rauner has, and in my estimation it is a big part of the public deception going on.

  3. - Honeybear - Tuesday, Oct 3, 17 @ 8:56 am:

    Rauners perfidy is following a plan. It’s a plan that I found in Gordon Laffers, One Percent Solution. Rauner fits the plan exactly. With one exception
    That was purely for the Mrs.
    I get it
    I wouldn’t let my job ruin my marriage either
    Rauner was never serious about this job
    It was fun when he was hitting labor but now….

  4. - PublicServant - Tuesday, Oct 3, 17 @ 8:59 am:

    With Republicans, credibility is directly proportional to the amount of campaign contributions a, um, citizen makes.

  5. - Steve Polite - Tuesday, Oct 3, 17 @ 9:01 am:

    Trust once breached is difficult if not impossible to regain. How would I ever know you’re not lying to me again. There will always be some level of suspicion.

  6. - wordslinger - Tuesday, Oct 3, 17 @ 9:04 am:

    Rauner had burned his supporters before.

    In his first year, he muscled every GOP legislator to vote against the K-12 approp., then flipped and signed the legislation.

    He pulled the rug out from and humiliated Radogno when she was working on a compromise effort that he publicly supported.

    He unceremoniously fired the Superstars who had loyally carried his water for years.

    Heck, he spent millions primarying McCann over one meaningless vote.

    Add to that all his well-documented lies on matters large and small and what do you expect? On HB40, Rauner put himself in a trick bag by taking two diametrically opposed positions. He was going to burn somebody.

    Rauner decided he could betray the ones who took his money; figured they were bought and paid for, a reasonable assumption. After all, they were complicit in all the damage he caused running up billions in unpaid bills and taking the wrecking ball to social services and higher ed. They sure weren’t looking out for their constituents by supporting Rauner’s actions then.

    So now some Republican lawmakers are “outraged?” Then give Rauner his money back. Refuse to take any more from him. Show that your principles outweigh his principal.

    I won’t hold my breath.

  7. - Matt P. - Tuesday, Oct 3, 17 @ 9:13 am:

    The Chicago Archdiocese lied to Chicagoans about covering up sexual abuse of children.

    The figurehead of that organization should not be considered to have integrity.

  8. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Oct 3, 17 @ 9:14 am:

    ===The Chicago Archdiocese lied to Chicagoans about covering up sexual abuse of children.

    The figurehead of that organization should not be considered to have integrity===

    So… “because Catholic”?


  9. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Oct 3, 17 @ 9:43 am:

    “No social agenda” = “I’ll do or say anything to anyone to accomplish my goal of bashing unions.”

  10. - Joe M - Tuesday, Oct 3, 17 @ 9:48 am:

    As long as he keeps blaming Madigan and bashing Chicago, he will still do good in many areas. That is enough for some people to still support him.

  11. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Oct 3, 17 @ 9:49 am:

    ===The reason this issue became such a huge crisis in the first place is that Rauner’s can’t be taken as truth. This started to become apparent on election night, when the governor claimed during his victory speech that he’d spoken to House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton even though he hadn’t.===

    It all started here, didn’t it?

    After that, twice is a coincidence, three or more times is a pattern.

  12. - Last Bull Moose - Tuesday, Oct 3, 17 @ 9:58 am:

    For me, Rauner has reached LBJ levels of deceit. I expect politicians to shade their stories. But he has no credibility at all.

  13. - Streator Curmudgeon - Tuesday, Oct 3, 17 @ 10:01 am:

    Love is blind. That’s the only explanation for the continued support of Trump’s base and Rauner’s as well.

    I am astounded (or am I naive?) that lying we would not tolerate in our children or spouses has become completely acceptable in our government leaders.

    “Well, they’re politicians. What’s the big deal? They all lie.”

    Really? Well shame on us for tolerating it.

  14. - NoGifts - Tuesday, Oct 3, 17 @ 10:16 am:

    Understand human nature - people don’t have to be credible if they are telling us what we want to hear.

  15. - Langhorne - Tuesday, Oct 3, 17 @ 11:32 am:

    Rich, i admire your restraint, in waiting as long as you did, to write this column. I have a hunch the Cardinals comment was the tipping point.

    Nutshell: The list is just endless with this guy. When Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich publicly calls you out for breaking your promise to veto HB40, you know you have a problem.

  16. - Oswego Willy - Tuesday, Oct 3, 17 @ 11:37 am:

    To the Post,

    First, Rich, great work framing from the “beginning” to where we all are now and where the governor is after, again, misleading, and in what the Cardinal made clear, that Rauner wasn’t honest to what he planned to do.

    I go back to a great point Rich made with the caucus formerly known as the HGOP.

    Durkin was always the most important person under the Dome and after a whole GA was sat and went Sine Die, the reality was Rauner misled the HRaunerites when Rauner knew it would benefit him. There’s no respect that Rauner had for the “middle manager” button pushers, who gleefully hurt so many in social services and higher education.

    The irony that you couldn’t write and sell to anyone as possible is that the phony known as Rauner… he was honest to his beginning with HB40, but was wholly dishonest in how he got there, and burned everyone in the end but Diana Rauner’s brand, which in ALL this, stays prestine.

    Diana Rauner paid, herself, millions for this office for Bruce, and keeping Raunerites in line, misleading them or not in the meantime.

    Rauner’s credibility?

    I asked in 2014… Honesty, Integrity, Ethics, Morals…

    The lone time Rauner showed those traits, arguably to the ILGOP, was HB40, by misleading them and a Catholic Cardinal that the hurt point to as “too far”, but they themselves have hurt by admitting the enabling of the credibility problem.

    This “all” would’ve ended quickly in 2015 had not Rauner parked $20 million and demanded “no &@$#% problems”… and Reps. Breen, Ives, McConchie… they all obliged… until this last budget when Rauner’s credibility was at its “bottom-lowest”… until the signature of HB40

    Rauner may get primaried, may not get primaried, but Rauner with his 65+% will win that primary, and with that the credibility that comes with the monies Durkin and Brady need to win during Trump’s off year.

    Rauner lacks credibility, but Rauner has been enabled, and that enabling, in the end, will continue to save from a Dem map scenario, that all may be “too far” for the likes of Reps. Breen, Ives, and McConchie.

  17. - Anonymous - Tuesday, Oct 3, 17 @ 12:10 pm:

    For the typical politician, if the choice is ‘do the right thing’ or ‘do what gets you re-elected’, the latter wins by a mile. Those who are blowing and huffing at Rauner now, will uet again count on the short attention span of voters, and become the lapdogs they’ve always been once waves the $$$$$$ about.
    He’s a billionaire - he knows a grifter when he sees one.

  18. - Lobo - Tuesday, Oct 3, 17 @ 3:18 pm:

    “After that, twice is a coincidence, three or more times is a pattern.”

    I was always told that three times is “enemy action.’

    Either way…

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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