Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner is once again making waves before making a difference, doling out $400,000 from his campaign fund to the state’s Republican lawmakers in advance of several key votes. Major budget and “turnaround agenda” decision are looming for the legislature.
The unorthodox move shows that the multi-millionaire’s promise to “shake up Springfield” more closely resembles an attempt to shake down Illinois.
Rauner says his $20 million political fund, $10.5 million of which came from personal donations, helps him counter the influence of labor unions. Political paranoia aside, Kent Redfield, a professor at the University of Illinois at Springfield, told The Times Union the move was “very unusual” and “really isn’t something we’ve seen.” He added that he believes the move would hurt Rauner’s claim that he is a maverick.
“There are going to be a lot of people who see this as business as usual,” he said.
Without specifically mentioning the campaign donations, Rauner told reporters earlier this month:
“We are encouraging the Republicans to stay strong together. To have more influence in the process we need to stay unified and that’s a message, I’ve been saying that for the entire process and that’s important.”
Steve Brown, spokesperson for Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, said the move “seemed a bit contradictory” to Rauner’s campaign persona and his attempts to ban contributions from unions. Brown spoke with The Chicago Tribune:
“He is a special interest. It confuses the average person who thinks he’s about changing the whole environment, when he’s engaged in the very same activity.”
Even within the party eyebrows are a’raisin’. Disclosure forms show that the money is not being evenly distributed among Republican politicians:
The donations, made Monday, included $10,000 to Senate GOP Leader Christine Radogno, according to documents filed by her campaign committee with the Illinois State Board of Elections. Three other legislators who had filed disclosures as of Saturday reported receiving either $4,000 or $8,000.
Rauner claims he wants to work with the Democratic supermajority in both chambers of the legislature to find solutions for the state’s $6 billion deficit. But his actions are speaking louder than his words.
“There’s a lot of pressure from all the special interest groups that don’t want to change. We’re a super-minority. To have more influence on the process we need to stay unified.”
One nation, under green.