Mayor Rahm Emanuel urged his buddy Bruce Rauner on Tuesday to release his full tax returns, calling it a “rite of passage” that candidates for public office simply cannot avoid.
Days after releasing his own 2013 tax returns, including schedules, Emanuel joined Gov. Pat Quinn in urging Rauner to do the same.
“Running for office and releasing your taxes is like a rite of passage. You have to do it,” the mayor said.
“When I ran for Congress, I released my taxes. When I ran for mayor, I released my taxes. I released my taxes when I was [White House] chief of staff, even though I was not in elected office, but it was an office in the public trust. I do believe in a separation. You’re still allowed a personal life and a private life. Your taxes, though … they speak to what I think is the right thing to do. And it’s a rite of passage running today for office, especially chief executive.”
Rauner’s enormous wealth and personal investments have been front-and-center in the governor’s race.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported this week that the Republican gubernatorial nominee not only has personal investments in the Cayman Islands, but he presided over his former private equity firm as it set up other investment vehicles in the Caribbean tax haven known for its secrecy.
The newspaper verified through the Cayman Islands’ government-run online business registry that a dozen investment funds were established there by Chicago-based GTCR between June 2009 and July 2011, when Rauner chaired the firm.
Three of those are funds in which Rauner declared last fall he had a personal financial stake and that were the subject of a Sun-Times report earlier this month. The candidate for governor has said repeatedly that those personal investments were completely above board and did not lower his state or federal tax obligations.
The new disclosure of a broader corporate involvement in the Caribbean nation by GTCR under Rauner’s stewardship comes after he was pilloried last week by Democrats, who portrayed him as a “billionaire” out of touch with working-class Illinoisans.
U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., a wounded Iraq War veteran, went so far as to liken the Winnetka Republican to a “deserter” for personally investing in the Cayman Islands and not paying his “fair share” of taxes. The nation doesn’t tax investment income or require earnings be disclosed to foreign taxing bodies such as the Internal Revenue Service.
Rauner’s camp has blasted Duckworth’s charge as “outrageous.”
In the face of such harsh political rhetoric, Rauner has insisted he has paid what he owes but has been unwilling to release a section of his tax returns that Democrats think could corroborate his claim and shed more light on his foreign holdings.
Emanuel and Rauner are longtime friends and education reform allies whose families have vacationed together. They also did a lucrative deal together after Emanuel left the Clinton White House and cashed in on his political connections during a brief stint as an investment banker.
But that didn’t stop the mayor from endorsing Quinn and lashing out at Rauner earlier this year for attempting to torpedo the mayor’s plan to raise property taxes by $250 million to save two city employee pension funds.
Appearing in Springfield, Rauner laughed off Emanuel’s call to release the attachments to his past years’ income-tax filings, which would reveal what types of tax deductions he has taken and shed light on many of his investments.
“Everybody’s got their opinion,” Rauner told reporters. “We have released far more than is required under the law. We’ve released multiple years of our tax returns.” Rauner intends to release his 2013 tax returns by October 15 but has not committed to releasing the schedules to those forms.