Hedge fund founder Ken Griffin — the richest man in Illinois — has contributed $20 million to Gov. Bruce Rauner’s re-election campaign, making it the second-largest individual contribution in state history.
The $20 million contribution was reported on May 15, according to a filing with the state Board of Elections.
Griffin’s contribution is also the second-largest individual contribution in Illinois history, according to the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform. Of the top 20 largest contributions in Illinois, Rauner and Griffin make up 16 of them. Rauner’s $50 million donation to his campaign last December marks the largest contribution.
“Governor Rauner cares deeply about the future of our state and making it a better place to live and work. He has the winning plan to create jobs, improve our schools and put Illinois on the right path forward,” Griffin said in a statement about the contribution.
Griffin, the founder of Citadel LLC, has been Rauner’s top contributor, behind the governor himself. Records show Griffin has previously contributed nearly $13.6 million to Rauner’s campaign fund since 2014.
Griffin contributed $5.6 million to Citizens for Rauner during the governor’s campaign and $8 million after Rauner was elected. Last August, he donated $1 million to Liberty Principles, a super PAC supporting Republicans. He also gave $3 million to Leslie Munger’s campaign. The Rauner appointee failed to stave off Democrat Susana Mendoza for comptroller.
Rauner had $50.5 million on hand in his campaign fund through March 31. That’s more than 17 times as much as his five major Democratic challengers combined. He now has $70.5 million.
Rauner and state Sen. Daniel Biss, are the two gubernatorial candidates reporting more than a million dollars of campaign cash on hand, according to the first major campaign report filed in April with the state’s Board of Elections.
Businessman Chris Kennedy fell just shy of that mark, with $907,427.61 on hand when the reporting period closed at the end of March.
And billionaire venture capitalist J.B. Pritzker beefed up his total with $7 million out of his own pocket after the filing period closed.
It’s all a sign of just how expensive the primary race — a long 10 months away — may become.
For Pritzker and Rauner, the vast majority of their campaign cash comes from their own pockets, signaling the increasingly important role self-financed campaigns are playing in Illinois politics.
In a statement, the Pritzker campaign called Rauner a “failed governor who has put politics over governing and passing a budget for our state.”
“Now, his special interest friends are back to bail him out and ensure his Koch brothers agenda gets a second life. Before once again dumping money into Rauner’s campaign, Ken Griffin donated $100,000 to Donald Trump’s inaugural,” Pritzker spokeswoman Galia Slayen said. “It’s clear that Ken Griffin and Rauner’s special interest allies want to force the Rauner-Trump agenda on our state, which attacks our working families and is decimating our economy.”
Kennedy’s campaign too criticized the contribution: “Democrats should not fall into the trap of replacing one billionaire for another. Party insiders might think that is the best way to beat Bruce Rauner, but voters know we can’t afford more of the status quo,” the campaign said in a statement.
Meanwhile, State Solutions, an arm of the Republican Governors Association, on Wednesday released another Rauner TV ad. Rauner began appearing in ads in March, showing the unprecedented nature of the 2018 race for governor in that Rauner — who’s expected to have no serious challenger in the GOP primary — was on TV months before incumbent candidates for governor normally appear in television commercials.
Rauner, however, has said the ads are focused on enacting a budget, and not on his re-election.