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Gov Candidate Sells Share of Newspaper. Newspaper Endorses Candidate. People Go Hmmm.

IL Gov Candidate Bruce Rauner (AP/Andrew A. Nelles)

IL Gov Candidate Bruce Rauner (AP/Andrew A. Nelles)

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With Illinois gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner locked in a too-close-to-call battle with Pat Quinn, the Chicago Sun-Times broke with recent tradition and made an official endorsement of the Republican challenger this weekend.  For the past three years the newspaper has not endorsed any candidates for office. 

The paper explained its about face by saying the race is “simply too important to the future of Illinois for us to stay silent,” adding in their Sunday edition, “It may well be the most important election in our state’s modern history.”

The Quinn campaign questioned the authenticity of the endorsement, though, and highlighted Rauner’s close ties to Sun-Times management.  Prior to announcing his candidacy, Rauner sold his 10 percent stake in Wrapports LLC, the parent company of the Sun-Times, to his friend, Wrapports chairman Michael Ferro Jr..

Quinn campaign spokeswoman Brooke Anderson spoke to Capitol Fax

“It’s bizarre. They said they weren’t going to endorse and suddenly - as billionaire Bruce Rauner falls behind in the polls - they are changing their policy. There’s a lot of concern out there that the new owners - who until recently included Bruce Rauner - are operating the paper in a way that is contrary to the independent journalistic standards of the Chicago Sun-Times.  

Unfortunately it appears that Bruce Rauner’s financial influence is still being felt. Any endorsement is clouded by the fact that Mr. Rauner was a part-owner of the paper which abruptly reversed its position when he fell behind in the polls,” she added.

Progress Illinois suggests that this is not the first time Rauner may have used his influence with former business partners to pressure the paper into supporting his campaign:

To add more fuel to the fire, Sun-Times Springfield Bureau Chief Dave McKinney has hired former federal prosecutor Patrick Collins to look into the recent actions of the Rauner campaign and determine if they attempted to meddle with his position at the newspaper after he published an article that put Rauner in a bad light. McKinney’s article, which was co-written with Carol Marin and Don Moseley, details threats Rauner allegedly made to Christine Kirk, the former CEO of LeapSource, a company that was owned by Rauner’s investment firm GTCR. Rauner reportedly threatened Kirk and her family when it was clear that she going to sue GTCR along with the venture capitalist and his associates, which Quinn made reference to in a recent debate between the candidates.

Rauner has vehemently denied making the threats and his campaign points to the fact that the allegations were thrown out of court and “sworn depositions contradict the allegations,”according to Capitol Fax.

Collins says has been retained by McKinney to look into the alleged retaliatory measures the Republican’s campaign took against the reporter after the story was published. Collins and McKinney have not commented on exactly how Rauner’s camp tried to get back at the Springfield Bureau chief.

A look at Real Clear Politics polls shows Quinn, who had been behind for most of the campaign, taking a slight though growing lead since September.  But three percent is as good as zero percent in a race of this nature, and both parties are planning to bring out heavy hitters in the last week of the election to sure up their voters. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will campaign on behalf of Rauner and President Obama will return to his home state to stump for Quinn.  


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