Bruce Rauner: A Fortiori
Here are a couple of important dates coming up quickly:
Wednesday, October 8th: Judge Belz in Sangamon County will rule on the request for judgment on the pleadings to the affirmative defense; that is, a decision whether to find the defendant Attorney General’s argument for “necessary police powers” as inadmissible or unconstitutional. This motion, brought last month by ISEA, RSEA, WAO, and IRTA, may be settled once and for all; but that’s unlikely. More likely, the magistrate may decide to issue a continuance, provide a partial judgment, select for inclusion only specific arguments or parties, avoid a holistic decision on the request – opting for the Supreme Court to handle the issue in its entirety. Whatever, it will be optimistically one more critical footstep on a legal path to an affirmation of pension security. Mark the calendar.
Wednesday, October 15th: One week later. Any extensions in the filings of federal and Illinois income taxes will be due, unless one is in a war zone like Afghanistan or a federally declared disaster area like flood-blanketed Colorado…or one is maybe a clever fund manager, like Bruce Rauner.
You might remember Bruce Rauner chose to not to release his 2013 tax returns, leaving opponents Quinn and Vallas to generate commercials criticizing his wealth in general terms. In fact, one persistent reporter cornered Vallas until finally getting a growling bark that Rauner was just too rich to be a governor.
Rauner promised to release his tax returns before the next important date: Tuesday, November 4th: Election Day. But, of course he did, because the usual six-month extension on federal taxes ends just 20 days before the election. And his mandatory allowance to maintain fiscal secrecy for the current year will end and become public/press record. But not all of it.
While the Democrats finger-wagging attacks have been concentrating on the mathematical aspect of Rauner’s wealth – somewhere between over-opulence and obscenity – it may very well be Rauner’s charitable contributions that would provide an argument a fiorati (for still a stronger reason) to vote for Quinn to diminish Rauner’s chances.
If the eventual release of Rauner’s 2013 income taxes reveals anything worth furrowing eyebrows, it will very likely be the political charitable contributions he provided to various PAC’s and “shadow” groups which tirelessly promote the far right wind agenda of a particular cabal in our post Citizens United America.
A cursory review of his available past records indicate that Bruce Rauner has invested heavily in the far-right agenda, and they in turn have become quite ready to invest in his rise from hedge fund manager to governor of the State of Illinois.
When you think of Rauner, think also of a four-letter word: Koch.
One of Rauner’s most ardent supporters in Illinois is the Illinois Policy Institute; CEO John Tillman was in the front of the line to tender $5000 for Rauner’s initial exploratory committee considering his run for governor.
Of course, Tillman might have been expected to give at least that much as records indicate that Rauner has provided over $1/2 million to the I.P.I. over the last several years (http://www.sj-r.com/article/20131107/News/311079879).
And the I.P.I. is one of 30 state level ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) groups, receiving copious sums of money from shadow groups like the State Policy Network , which itself collects some $83 million annually from major corporate donors like Koch Industries, Philip Morris, Kraft, etc. (http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/05/state-conservative-groups-assault-education-health-tax) Interestingly, the donors can only suggest where their donation might be used or most helpful; therefore, the specifics of amounts and identities are washed from the donation. All legal, all under the table.
As a recipient of money from the State Policy Network, the I.P.I. is able to shield its supporters and even those they decide in turn to support politically – like Rahm Emanuel, a politician considered malleable in the I.P.I.’s free-market argument to morph pensions into 401k’s (Guardian). As a member of ALEC and a recipient of CATO Fund directives/funds; I.P.I.’s consistent mantra is to replace all defined benefit programs with defined contributions, a position first taken and then recanted by the challenger Rauner in the spring of 2014. (http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Illinois_Policy_Institute)
Other beneficiaries of Rauner’s right-wing largesse include political groups and PAC’s which unnervingly flesh out much of his meager and skeletal descriptions of political fixes and future behaviors. When Rauner first blundered into the minimum wage fray, questioning whether there should be any minimum wage at all; he was simply parroting the position of his political colleague Ted Dabrowski, spokesperson for the I.P.I., which would deny any set wage for any work performed in a free market.
The Heartland Institute, a right-wing group that worked endlessly to blunt or deny any scientific evidence for climate change, is another targeted benefactor of Rauner’s giving. Indeed, Heartland Institute has used money – like the $50,000 from Rauner in 2012 – to suggest (seriously?) that drilling for oil in places like Lake Michigan is totally acceptable. “It makes perfect sense to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Gulf of Mexico, and, yes, the Great Lakes, too…” (http://illinoisfreedom.com/news/follow-money-rauners-2-million-tea-party-groups-undermines-moderate-pose/ ).
Nearly another $1/2 million of Rauner’s assistance went to an organization devoted to the opposition to marriage equality, and while Rauner recently suggested he might have vetoed the Illinois bill that was passed, he has carefully avoided informing the public he has been spending widely to prevent any such bill from getting onto the floor of the General Assembly. In fact, he has given Jack Rosen, the head of the Family Taxpayers Association, all the support he can, and Rosen has expressed clearly what he thinks of the LGBT platform: “We all know that it (a gay lifestyle) is a kind of death sentence.” (Illinois Freedom)
As for pensions for workers? Rauner is nothing if not constantly vacillating. Yet, if pensions fall under the aegis of security for those who worked their lives in hope of a somewhat comfortable and independent end, knowing the Rauner in 2012 provided another nearly $1/2 million to the Cato Institute, the Club for Growth, and Americans for Prosperity should clarify his position on pensions and Social Security and Medicare. Each of these Koch-supported groups have strongly worked behind the scenes on the federal and local level to eradicate Social Security and Medicare as overly costly entitlements given to working class people.
The lists go on…and on. FreedomWorks, another conservative PAC that works to deny climate change theory and any manifestations of government healthcare (Medicare, Affordable Care Act) received another $25,000 in 2012. Sourcewatch describes FreedomWorks as a significant tea-party group that in turn funds groups like the I.P.I. (Sourcewatch)
In education, ironically, Rauner and at least one of the Democratics on the gubernatorial ticket can agree: on their perception of what’s best for education. Vallas and Rauner are clearly on the same page when it comes to supporting/promoting the privatization of public education, one of the last cash cows abruptly under the long, narrow eye of Wall Street investors interested in managing all that public money. In this arena, Rauner’s beneficence is mammoth indeed: Noble Network of Charter Schools received $2 million on 2012; Stand for Children, $600,000; Teach for American Chicago, $1,100,000 (and Payton Prep, $200,000)