Rauner cuts backroom deal with career politician and a conflicted lobbyist

By DOUG IBENDAHL • May 13, 2014

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Bruce Rauner has yet to be elected to any public office but he’s already acting like the Springfield politicians he says he’ll chase after with that big sledgehammer of his.

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Monday evening at 5:00 p.m. was the arbitrary deadline set by the Illinois Republican Party for candidates seeking the state party chairmanship to submit a notice of candidacy.

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So last night after that 5:00 p.m. deadline had passed it was announced that Jack Dorgan would not be running for re-election as State Party Chairman. Dorgan is officially going over to the Rauner campaign as Co-Chair of the Finance Committee.

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Also announced last night was step two which has Dorgan and Rauner endorsing Tim Schneider for State Party Chairman.

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In other words, Rauner made a deal with a Cook County career politician (Schneider) whose Cook County dealings have raised some eyebrows in the past, and a Cook County based lobbyist (Dorgan) who has supported a multitude of ethically challenged Democrats including Rod Blagojevich and James DeLeo. Sure, Dorgan has helped some Republicans too. His “help” of George Ryan earned Dorgan a mention several years ago in the U.S. Government’s proffer in the Ryan criminal corruption case.

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The 18 members of the newly constituted State Central Committee meet this Saturday in Springfield to pick the new Chairman. The Illinois Republican Party has already decreed this shall also be a closed, backroom affair.

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None of this should come as a surprise. Rauner has made it clear he’s quite “comfortable” keeping voters in the dark – along with injured plaintiffs.

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One other candidate filed by the Monday deadline. This challenger was reportedly also a Rauner supporter in the primary so we’ll see if he’s still in the race by Saturday. I hope he stays the course. While the fix appears to be in, Schneider deserves at least token competition.

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The sad part is that the persons I know who would be best for the Chairman post wouldn’t even consider it this time because they couldn’t in good conscience champion a party now headed by Rauner. I can relate.

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It’s disappointing to see our already closed State GOP becoming even less transparent and even more dependent on the back-room deal under Rauner.

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But frankly I think Saturday is largely an academic exercise anyway. I predict that once Pat Quinn starts running ads with testimonials from family members of elderly persons who died after neglect in one of the GTCR-controlled nursing homes, the governor’s race will be over.

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In the meantime, I say let’s not fool around. We might as well race to the bottom and officially mark the Illinois Republican Party as the latest acquisition for the Rauner portfolio. Perhaps a new name would be appropriate for our party. I’m thinking something along the lines of: GOP Rauner Bust-Out Fund VI, L.P.

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Doug Ibendahl is a Chicago Attorney and a former General Counsel of the Illinois Republican Party.

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