Donors find no great divide between Emanuel and Rauner

Written By BY NATASHA KORECKI AND ART GOLAB Staff Reporters Posted: 03/02/2014, 02:41am
Array GOP gubernatorial hopeful Bruce Rauner talks with Chicago Sun-Times political reporter Natasha Korecki at the East Bank Club on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014. | Peter Holderness / Sun-Times

One’s a Democrat, one’s a Republican.

One’s the mayor and the other wants to be governor.

As one works to build political muscle and the other his political identity, Rahm Emanuel and Bruce Rauner cross paths in a number of junctures.

Perhaps most notably, however, is their shared access to Chicago’s elite billionaire’s club.

An analysis of campaign contributions since Emanuel ran for mayor and since Rauner launched his gubernatorial campaign shows an overlap of more than 100 campaign contributors.

Among them: businessmen with some of the deepest pockets in the state, if not the world. Three of the overlapping donors — Ken Griffin, Joseph Mansueto and Eric Lefkofsky — landed on the 2013 Forbes list of billionaires. Members of Chicago’s Crown family, which has an estimated worth of $4 billion, also contributed to both campaigns. The Crown family also contributed to former Mayor Richard M. Daley.

Mansueto, founder and CEO of Morningstar Inc., last year was 260th on the Forbes billionaire’s list with $2.1 billion. (Mansueto is also an investor in Wrapports LLC, the owner of the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago Reader.)

Another overlapping donor is Matthew Hulsizer, who co-founded Peak6 Capital Management, which manages money for high net worth clients. Peak6 has more than $1 billion under management.

Griffin, who is the founder and CEO of Citadel, is perhaps the wealthiest businessman in the state and among the richest on the planet with a net worth at $4.4 billion. He has sunk cash into both Emanuel and Rauner’s kitties.

Griffin, outside of Rauner, is the largest contributor to Rauner’s campaign.

When it comes to self-donations, Emanuel and Rauner have something else in common: they both are the top contributors to their own campaign funds.

To date, Rauner has put $5 million in his campaign that has raised more than $11 million since last year’s launch.

The pace of Rauner’s fundraising, even outside of his own investment, has dwarfed that of his competitors. For instance, state Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, who won the 2010 GOP gubernatorial nomination, so far this year has reported receiving 12 donations in excess of $1,000 for a total of $24,000.

Rauner, meanwhile, reported raising about $95,000 from 42 people — on Thursday.

Emanuel has given himself $1.1 million, much of it transferred to his mayoral campaign from his old congressional fund.

Why such overlap? The men operate in some of the same circles, having a background in investment.

Chicago-based political consultant Don Rose said there’s another reason that goes back to an old idiom: “The common interest of which we speak is neither red nor blue but green.”

Rose said Rauner and Emanuel tapped into “a social and a business elite who become part of the political elite because of their financial standing.”

High rollers in general are paying for access, and that often knows no party lines. With the exception of harder-line Democratic donors like the Pritzker family or Fred Eychaner, millionaires who are longtime Chicago Democrat donors are just as likely to be giving to Republicans on a national level, Rose said.

“People in this class with many business interests want to cultivate politicians, not necessarily for something that’s immediately coming up, but anything that can happen down the road,” he said. “They tend not to give for the quid pro quo, but for the access when they need it.”

Opponents have tried to sling the Emanuel name like a dirty word against Rauner, but so far it hasn’t stuck, with poll after poll showing Rauner holding a double-digit lead over his three opponents in the March 18 primary.

The two also have a personal friendship that has entailed Emanuel visiting Rauner’s Montana ranch to fish.

Opponents at times accused Rauner of employing Emanuel, but he did not. However, Rauner, as chairman of GTCR Golder Rauner equity firm, did help Emanuel expand his personal wealth, which ultimately led him to make $18 million in three years.

When Emanuel left the Clinton White House to become an investment banker in the ’90s, he helped put together a major deal involving Rauner’s firm’s purchase of SecurityLink from SBC Ameritech, worth $500 million. Emanuel’s successor as White House chief of staff, William Daley, would later become company president.

“GTCR private equity in Chicago bought from SBC their home security business,” Emanuel told the Sun-Times editorial board in 2010. “That turned out to be a great business deal for the investors as well as the company, which was eventually bought by Tyco [Intl. Ltd.].”

On Friday, John Kupper, a political adviser to Emanuel, said, “First, Mayor Emanuel has endorsed his fellow Democrat, Gov. Pat Quinn, and fully supports his re-election. Second, Mayor Emanuel is proud of the breadth of his support from business leaders, labor unions and his many other contributors who appreciate his vision and leadership on behalf of Chicago’s future.”

In an interview with the Sun-Times, Rauner said he and Emanuel “disagree on most things”— except school reform.

“Rahm and I worked closely together on school reform. I anticipate being able to work with him on other issues. He needs real pension reform. He wants more school reform and he needs a better business climate in Chicago. So we share those interests,” Rauner told the Sun-Times. “Now, he and I disagree on most things. We fight and disagree on most things. He wants a graduated income tax; I don’t. I don’t think we should go there. We should have a flat, low income tax. He likes Obamacare; I don’t. I think Obamacare is causing all kinds of massive disruption and is a huge drag on the American economy.”

Rauner has been under attack for his past donations to Democrats. He’s given $250,000 to Forrest Claypool, former Cook County commissioner and current CTA boss, and $200,000 to Daley.

“The reality is I’ve given to 10 times as many Republicans than to Democrats,” Rauner said. “It doesn’t make me a Democrat to give to a Democrat.”

Though Rauner highlights conservative fiscal credentials, he holds more moderate social views, including being pro-choice.

He also has given $300,000 to former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, who used to head the Democratic National Committee. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that following Rauner’s contributions to Rendell, Pennsylvania doubled its pension business with GTCR, adding $116 million in pension funds worth $4 million in fees.

“I helped [Rendell] because he was powerful at the DNC; I thought that might be useful in terms of the school reforms here. It never really panned out.”

Rauner said those donations, as well as his pulling a Democratic ballot in 2006, don’t muddy his Republican credentials.

“Those donations . . . were all about school reform. I’m a passionate school reformer. The mayors in Chicago control the schools, so I worked closely with the mayors with school reform,” Rauner said.

Rauner backs vouchers, merit pay for teachers and believes in ridding the state of the ISAT test. Rauner spoke of deep financial troubles facing Chicago public schools and tweaked the handling of school shutdowns in Chicago, largely in poor neighborhoods.“

Browse More 'Uncategorized'