GOP candidate Bruce Rauner’s money helped UNO pay bills

Written By By DAN MIHALOPOULOS Staff Reporter Posted: 03/05/2014, 06:03am
Array 12-7-2001 The Academy of Communications and Technology located at 4319 W. Washington Street, formerly St. Mel's, is one of three charter schools coming up for renewal. Co-founders and co-directors Michelle Smith, left, and Sarah Howard state their case and give a tour to Sun-Times reporter Rosalind Rossi. (Photo by Richard A. Chapman/Sun-Times) digital image

Bruce Rauner’s family charity has contributed $800,000 to the scandal-tarred United Neighborhood Organization in recent years, including $750,000 to help expand the Hispanic community group’s network of 16 charter schools in Chicago, UNO records show.

When Gov. Pat Quinn temporarily cut off state funding to the charter operator last year, UNO put $285,000 of the Rauner Family Foundation’s money toward paying bills the state would have covered.

Quinn suspended funding after the Chicago Sun-Times reported in February 2013 that $8.5 million from a $98 million state school-construction grant had gone to conractors owned by brothers of Miguel d’Escoto, a former city transportation commissioner who was UNO’s second-ranking executive at the time.

D’Escoto quit in the wake of those reports. They also led to a federal Securities and Exchange Commission investigation of UNO and the resignation in December of UNO CEO Juan Rangel, who co-chaired the 2011 campaign of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a Rauner friend.

“It sounds like there has been some potentially bad behavior and some money not spent appropriately, which is very troubling to me,” Rauner says. “I certainly wouldn’t want to donate more to them until the investigation is done and the facts are known.”

Rauner says he wasn’t aware UNO used some of his money to make up for the suspended state funding. He also says he didn’t specify how the contributions were to be spent. When Quinn later resumed the grant, UNO replenished the account it had created with the donations from Rauner, UNO records show.

The donations from the Rauner Family Foundation included $250,000 in December 2011, $500,000 in December 2012 and $50,000 in 2010. According to the foundation’s tax returns, the $50,000 contribution was to “improve Hispanic neighborhoods/community.”

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