Rauner open to softer pot rules; on defense over nursing homes

SHARE Rauner open to softer pot rules; on defense over nursing homes

One week after Bruce Rauner said he wouldn’t have signed a bill supporting medical marijuana in Illinois, the Republican gubernatorial candidate on Tuesday said he was “open to the discussion” of decriminalizing small amounts of the substance statewide.

When asked about Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s proposal to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana and reducing to a misdemeanor the penalty for possession of one gram or less of any controlled substance, Rauner said: “I think we can and should talk about ways we can creatively deal with non-violent offenders. We should have that discussion…We have a massive failure by Pat Quinn to deal with violent criminals.”

Did that mean he could be for it?

“I’m open to the discussion,” he said. “What we’ve got to focus on is the violent crime that’s occurring in our communities. That’s what we’ve got to focus on, we’ve got to prevent it.”

Rauner made the remarks in what grew into a combative news conference on Tuesday, in which Rauner, appearing alongside New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, was asked about his role with a troubled nursing home chain.

When questions turned toTrans Health Care, a nursing home chain once managed by GTCR, which is under scrutiny in Florida bankruptcy court this week, Rauner said they were just a distraction orchestrated by Quinn.

On Monday, the Chicago Tribune reported that Rauner minimized his role with Trans Health Care, saying a new document that’s part of the court case indicates Rauner served on the board four years after its inception. Rauner is not named as a defendant in the court case, but his former firm, GTCR is.

“This is a distraction from a failed governor who is creating a diversion away from his failed administration,” Rauner said. “Pat Quinn is under criminal federal investigation.”

When a reporter pointed out that Rauner was standing next to Gov. Christie, whose administration is under federal investigation and asked what was the difference, Rauner didn’t respond, taking a different question.

Rauner was also asked about his role with a nursing home chain Trans Health Care and whether he’s been truthful about his role in the company, which is now under scrutiny in a Florida federal court.

“This is a distraction, but let me address it again, I addressed it yesterday,” Rauner said. “I served on that board in the early formation of the company for a period of time. My heart goes out to the families who were impacted by deaths in nursing homes, it’s a tragedy. I hope and believe there was no inappropriate decisions made at that company. If there were, I believe that the courts will sort it out. I believe anyone who made an inappropriate decision will be punished to the fullest extent of the law.”

“This is primarily a distraction,” Rauner said. “Pat Quinn is fundamentally failing and trying to create a distraction…these are a distraction. That is what I believe will be found.”

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