Republicans reap $14 million bonanza from Rauner, Griffin

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File photos, left to right: Gov. Bruce Rauner | Lou Foglia/Sun-Times; House Minority Leader Jim Durkin | Rich Hein/Sun-Times; Ken Griffin, Sun-Times Media; Comptroller Leslie Munger | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

With less than three weeks left until Election Day, Gov. Bruce Rauner and hedge fund manager Ken Griffin, the richest man in Illinois, have combined to pump $14 million into Republican coffers.

In the last two days, Rauner and Griffin contributed the money to the campaign committees of House Minority Leader Jim Durkin and Comptroller Leslie Munger.

Griffin, CEO of Citadel LLC, made two contributions Friday — one for $3 million to Durkin’s committee and another for $2 million to Munger’s, according to state campaign finance records.

Records show Durkin’s committee gave the Illinois Republican Party $3 million Thursday. The same day, Rauner and his wife Diana gave Durkin’s committee $9 million.

The contributions were disclosed Friday afternoon, a week after it was made public that Citizens for Rauner gave Durkin’s committee $3 million and Durkin’s committee gave the Illinois Republican Party just more than $1 million, the Chicago Sun-Times reported last week.

In an emailed statement Friday night, Griffin said: “I care deeply about the future of our state, and I believe Leslie’s and Jim’s experiences and their vision for Illinois is exactly what we need.”

But Democratic City Clerk Susana Mendoza, who is challenging Munger, said her GOP rival is “a wholly owned subsidiary of the Governor’s office,” adding that Munger “has demonstrated her utter lack of independence and complete reliance on her political sponsor.”

Representatives for Munger, Durkin and the Illinois Republican Party did not respond to requests for comment Friday evening.

The Friday revelations of big influxes of money have become somewhat of a tradition this campaign season, as Griffin and other billionaire friends of Rauner drop big contributions that generally wind up being channeled into other funds.

The series of transfers allow the Republicans to distribute the money to GOP candidates around the state, a legal maneuver used by both parties to pass contributions from candidates in big-spending races to candidates with less money in their accounts.

Munger is locked in a tight contest against Mendoza, but the Republican incumbent has transferred some of the money she has received into other GOP accounts.

Earlier this month, Munger’s campaign fund transferred $3 million to the Illinois Republican Party, just days after pulling in $5 million — $2 million from GOP mega-donor and packaging magnate Richard Uihlein and $3 million donation from Griffin.

Durkin has no general election opponent, but he is seeking to win targeted legislative seats across the state in order to chip away at the super majority held by House Speaker Mike Madigan — whom Rauner routinely blames for most of the state’s problems.

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