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Ives falsely claims primary foe did not publicly oppose Illinois abortion bill

Former state Rep. Jeanne Ives says ex-Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti did not denounce a controversial bill signed by former Gov. Bruce Rauner that expanded public funding of abortions.

Then-Illinois state Rep. Jeanne Ives was interviewed by reporter Lynn Sweet in the Sun-Times newsroom Oct. 29, 2018. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

The Illinois primaries are still more than six months away, but two Republicans are already ratcheting up what is expected to be a major GOP battle to wrest control of the suburban 6th Congressional District from freshman Democratic U.S. Rep. Sean Casten.

A few weeks ago, Jeanne Ives declared her candidacy for the seat. A former state representative from Wheaton who ran an insurgent campaign in the 2018 GOP primary against then-incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner, Ives was little known statewide before her bid. She lost the primary to Rauner by just a few percentage points.

In what is shaping up to be a rematch of sorts, Ives is expected to face off in the 2020 primary against Rauner’s former lieutenant governor, Evelyn Sanguinetti, who ran alongside Rauner in his failed 2018 re-election bid, which he lost to Democrat Gov. J.B. Pritzker.

During a recent TV interview, Ives took a swipe at Sanguinetti over an issue that in many ways formed the cornerstone of Ives’ 2018 challenge of Rauner, whom she portrayed as being too liberal on social issues.

Speaking about the track record of the “Rauner-Sanguinetti team” on Fox 32’s “Flannery Fired Up,” Ives contended the former lieutenant governor, who opposes abortion rights, had not taken an overt stand opposing Rauner’s decision to sign a controversial bill that expanded the public funding of abortions.

“She publicly did not stand in opposition to it, strongly in opposition to it,” Ives told host Mike Flannery. “Whatever opinion she had was never picked up by the media in that regard. And she may have opposed it, but she still stood by her man the entire time as he continued to bail out big corporations on the backs of ratepayers and everything else, so she stood with him hand in hand the whole time.”

Ives’ comments clearly suggest Sanguinetti did not go public with her disagreement on the abortion measure. Yet numerous articles published the day Rauner announced his intention to sign the bill reveal his lieutenant governor made her opposition clear.

Rewriting history

Rauner was elected governor in 2014 after running for office as a pro-choice fiscal conservative with “no social agenda.” In September of 2017, he signed a measure that expanded abortion for women on state and Medicaid plans, and ensured the procedure would remain legal in Illinois even if the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. The move followed months of pressure from abortion rights groups after Rauner said earlier that year he planned to veto the bill over public concerns about taxpayer-funded abortions.

During the news conference he held declaring he would sign the bill, known as HB40, Rauner was flanked by abortion rights advocates, including former GOP Lt. Gov. Corinne Wood.

But Sanguinetti was noticeably absent from the event. Instead, she issued a statement that same day declaring she opposed the governor’s decision, which was picked up by numerous local and national media outlets: “As a pro-life Republican, I disagree with the governor’s decision to sign HB 40,” her statement read.

“I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for a 15-year-old refugee who chose to have me and keep me. I realize this bill is a political ploy to divide the people of Illinois,” her statement continued, referencing the Democrats who control the state House and Senate and sent the bill to Rauner’s desk. “While I disagree with the governor on this, we must focus on our areas of agreement — enacting real reforms we need to turn Illinois around.”

Following his decision to sign the measure, Rauner faced the wrath of many Republicans who said they felt he betrayed them.

That list included Ives, one of the legislature’s most conservative members. She announced her candidacy for governor a month later, saying Rauner had discredited himself by signing into law what she described as “very extreme measures,” including HB40.

We repeatedly called and emailed Ives’ campaign to ask how she squares Sanguinetti’s widely reported statement with her claim the former lieutenant governor did not break ranks with Rauner on the issue. Neither she nor any spokespeople responded to our requests.

Our ruling

Ives said that as lieutenant governor, Sanguinetti “publicly did not stand in opposition” to Rauner’s decision to a bill that expanded the public funding of abortions in Illinois. That narrative is contradicted by numerous news articles published the day Rauner announced he would sign the bill, which quote directly from a statement Sanguinetti released clearly stating she disagreed with his decision.

We rate Ives’ claim False.

The Better Government Association runs PolitiFact Illinois, the local arm of the nationally renowned, Pulitzer Prize-winning fact-checking enterprise that rates the truthfulness of statements made by governmental leaders and politicians. Ahead of the historic 2018 elections, BGA’s fact-checking service is teaming up weekly with the Sun-Times, in print and online. You can find all of the PolitiFact Illinois stories we’ve reported together here.

Sources

“Republican Jeanne Ives jumps in Congress race for Democratic Rep. Casten seat,” Chicago Sun-Times, July 28, 2019

“Rauner declares victory, Ives admits her revolt ‘fell just a bit short,’” Chicago Sun-Times, March 22, 2018

“Flannery Fired Up: Ives, Sanguinetti square off in 6th District; Sheila O’Brien,” Fox 32, July 26, 2019

“Lt. Gov. Sanguinetti sticks with Gov. Rauner despite disagreements,” Chicago Tribune, Jan. 8, 2018

“Rauner consistent from the start on his pro-choice views,” PolitiFact Illinois, Oct. 10, 2017

“Rauner pulls trigger: Signs bill to ensure abortion remains legal,” Chicago Sun-Times, Sept. 28, 2017

Video: Rauner news conference, Illinois Department of Central Management Services, Sept. 28, 2017

“Rauner signs bill allowing Medicaid for abortions,” The Associated Press, Sept. 28, 2017

“Reaction to the signing of House Bill 40 into law,” State Journal-Register, Sept. 28, 2017

“Illinois Governor Signs Abortion Bill, Angering Fellow Republicans,” New York Times, Sept. 28, 2017

“Rauner Signs HB 40, Bill Expanding Abortion Coverage,” WILL Radio, Sept. 28, 2017

“Gov. Rauner signs controversial abortion bill,” Channel 20, Sept. 28, 2017

“Republicans rage at Rauner,” Politico, Oct. 2, 2017

“State Rep. Jeanne Ives Confirms: She’s Running for Governor,” WTTW, Oct. 31, 2017