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SPRINGFIELD-After appearing in a campaign commercial that touted his love for an $18 watch, venture capitalist Bruce Rauner released three years of federal tax returns Monday, showing that in 2012 he reported a jaw-dropping $53.4 million in net income.
And in another revealing glimpse of his fortune, Rauner disclosed for the first time in a separate state filing that he has ownership stakes in three professional sports franchises: the Chicago Bulls, Pittsburgh Steelers and Boston Red Sox.
Those disclosures came on top of another $500,000 that Rauner infused into his campaign fund Monday, bringing the total to $1.24 million in personal funds that he has dedicated thus far to his run for governor.
The banner financial year Rauner had last year came with a cost. His tax forms show he paid $10.1 million in federal taxes in 2012, which amounted to an effective tax rate of 19 percent — a percentage still below what many middle-class families pay. Rauner paid state government $2.6 million in taxes for the year.
“I’ve worked extremely hard and feel incredibly blessed to have earned financial success,” Rauner said in a prepared statement. “I’m driven by the challenge of business, the team-building aspect and the problem-solving, and I am passionate about giving back to the community.
“Capitalism is the greatest poverty-fighting machine in the history of mankind, and I’m proud of the role I’ve played in it,” he said.
In 2011, Rauner reported $28.1 million in income and in 2010 $27.1 million.
The immense wealth certainly doesn’t square with the common-man image Rauner has tried to portray to voters — that of a man who loves wearing an inexpensive watch, Wrangler jeans and Carhartt jackets, driving a “20-year-old camper van,” and toasting a rural Downstate audience with a swig of Stag beer.
But by openly putting his wealth on the table and releasing his taxes on the same day he filed his nominating petitions, Rauner moved to deprive his rivals from getting the first crack at defining him and his wealth. Still, some of Rauner’s rivals wasted no time in pouncing.
“I don’t have problems with Mr. Rauner’s wealth,” said state Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale, one of Rauner’s gubernatorial foes. “But I do believe voters will have problems with someone portraying themselves as someone they are not, and it’s quite clear someone with $53 million a year in income is not in tune with those of us who worry about making day-to-day payments on our mortgages or our cars or our children’s education.
“Fifty-three million dollars is not compatible with an $18 watch in his commercial,” Dillard told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Dillard said he intends to release his own tax returns “any day.”
An aide to state Sen. Bill Brady, R-Bloomington, also weighed in.
“The question is how much Republican voters will think they have in common with him,” Brady spokesman Dan Egler said. “Sen. Brady will release his tax returns, and they’ll show him more in tune with Illinois’ working families.”
State Treasurer Dan Rutherford declined comment on Rauner’s disclosures.
Rauner’s ownership in the professional sports teams, including the hometown Chicago Bulls, had not been widely reported. It came in a state economic-interest filing attached to nominating petitions he submitted Monday in order to get a place on the March 18th primary ballot.
The sports team disclosures came in response to a question in which candidates are asked to divulge ownership in any company doing business in Illinois if an investment is worth more than $5,000 or if dividends of more than $1,200 are derived.
“I can confirm that Bruce owns a stake in the Bulls as well as the Pittsburgh Steelers and Boston Red Sox,” campaign spokesman Mike Schrimpf told the Chicago Sun-Times.
“Including the Steelers is a good example of Bruce using a broad definition of doing business in Illinois. Bruce chose to disclose Pittsburgh Steelers Sports, Inc. even though the Steelers did not play a game in Illinois during the calendar year,” Schrimpf said.
Rauner, meanwhile, announced that if he is elected governor, he would put all of his financial holdings in a blind trust.
“Illinoisans have been let down by too many politicians and deserve a governor they can trust to always put their interest first,” Rauner said in the statement. “That’s why I’m committed to establishing a blind trust if given the honor of being governor.
“I can’t be bought or intimidated by the special interests. As governor, I’ll be all about driving results for the people of Illinois,” he said.