WASHINGTON — The biggest individual Democratic donors in Illinois have joined with pro-Democratic unions to pump jumbo dollars into a new super PAC to punch at Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

The latest Federal Election Commission filings show $2,316,863 has been spent since Oct. 11 on an ad blitz to oppose Rauner by strongly linking him to GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.

The super PAC is named LIFT — Leading Illinois for Tomorrow — and was formed with the blessings of the top Illinois Democratic leaders in September. State Sen. Daniel Biss, D-Evanston, is the lead elected official publicly associated with LIFT.

LIFT is intended to be a major Democratic vehicle to counter the millions of dollars Rauner is pouring into various political committees to defeat Democratic state lawmakers in November.


Rauner has not divorced himself from Trump, and that gave Chicago-based Democratic ad maker Eric Adelstein his opening for the Rauner-Trump spot he made.

“If Bruce Rauner and the Illinois Republicans support Donald Trump after all that, why should we support them? Say no to Trump Rauner Republicans,” a narrator says in the ad.

Rauner is not on the November ballot. “When independent, Democratic and persuadable voters know who is supporting Trump it can be a powerful turnout tool,” Adelstein said.

Fundraising for the group began in late September, FEC records show.

According to the first LIFT donor FEC filing, disclosed on Saturday, the first wave of union donors are: the Fight Back Fund, $262,500; the International Association of Fire Fighters, $60,000; Ironworkers Political Education Fund, $50,000; International Union of Operating Engineers Local 399, $40,000; SEIU HealthCare Illinois, $3,000; and United Food and Commercial Workers Local 881, $30,000.

FEC records also show Howard Rossman, a Mesirow Financial executive, contributed $25,000.

Biss said in an interview on Sunday the Fight Back Fund was associated with Operating Engineers Local 150.

Those publically disclosed donations total $470,500 — yet FEC expenditure records show $1.032 million in ad spending reported on Oct. 11 and an additional $1.284 million in spending on Oct. 14.

The Sun-Times has learned that the additional funders include four of the major donors and fundraisers in Illinois: Fred Eychaner, Michael Sacks, J.B. Pritzker and Bill Brandt. Eychaner and Pritzker are among the biggest donors to Democratic candidates and causes in the nation.

Brandt said he donated $50,000, which will show up on the next FEC filing.

Brandt said he was “appalled that Republicans across the country are seemingly trying to divorce their party from Trump when in fact he is a creature of their party.”

“The goal right now is to hold Rauner accountable for Trump and for his party’s positions,” he said.


Chicago’s Ken Griffin, one of the biggest Republican donors in the nation, sent $1 million at the end of August to Liberty Principles PAC, according to new disclosure reports.

Griffin now joins Rauner and another GOP mega-donor, Richard Uihlein, as the major financial backers of Liberty, which is devoted to elect Republicans to the Illinois General Assembly.