SPRINGFIELD-The top House Republican denied ever telling Gov. Pat Quinn that Republican Bruce Rauner was offering campaign contributions to rank-and-file House Republicans to oppose pension legislation, saying the conversation the governor described in this week’s gubernatorial debate never happened.
“That conversation never occurred,” House Minority Leader Jim Durkin, R-Western Springs, said during a taping of “Off Message,” the weekly public-affairs program on Early & Often, the Chicago Sun-Times’ political portal.
“A lot of things happened during that pension vote,” he continued at about the 3:50-minute mark in the program. “But the fact is that conversation never took place.”
On Tuesday, in the second face-to-face debate between Rauner and Quinn, the governor said Durkin confided in him that Rauner was “throwing money around to try and sabotage the pension reform bill.”
Both Durkin and Quinn supported the pension-reform package that passed last year and that now is facing a legal challenge from a coalition of public-sector unions.
Asked specifically if the governor lied during that portion of the debate where he related the Durkin conversation, the House Republican leader again said, “That conversation never took place.”
A Quinn campaign aide, meanwhile, stuck to the governor’s version of events while slamming Rauner.
“The governor spoke the truth,” Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said. “Furthermore, Bruce Rauner has a proven and lengthy record of pay to play. After Mr. Rauner made $300,000 in campaign donations to a candidate for Pennsylvania governor, he doubled his firm’s business with the State of Pennsylvania, which netted him a $4 million profit. This would be illegal under Illinois campaign finance law.
“Mr. Rauner also had corrupt swindler Stuart Levine on his payroll for $25,000 a month while he sought public pension business from the Illinois Teacher Retirement System, where Levine sat on the board. Rauner didn’t disclose that conflict of interest, and quietly got the $50 million contract thanks to Levine’s assistance,” she said.