UPDATED 2/19/2014: For months Jack Roeser's employees have denied on social media that he has received any money from candidate Bruce Rauner. We have also reported for months on social media that - according to Guidestar and the Illinois State Board of Elections - Roeser's organizations have received more than $440,000 from Bruce Rauner. Roeser's Family Taxpayer Network received $400,000 from 2010 to 2012 from Rauner (Guidestar.com) and $40,000 to his Renaissance PAC and additional large donations from Rauner's contributions.
Guidestar screenshots (2010-2012):
Roeser's Champion News blog has not only endorsed Rauner but aggressively attacked the other three GOP candidates. Like the Illinois Policy Institute which also has received large contributions from Rauner, these activities raise a red flag about trading non-profit donations for political support and activity.
Chicago, Illinois, November 13, 2013 – Last week, Bernard Schoenburg of the State Journal-Register reported:
Republican gubernatorial candidate BRUCE RAUNER has donated more than $500,000 to the Illinois Policy Institute over the last five years.
The institute, which bills itself as a free-market, liberty-based organization, promotes a range of policies and has writers in an offshoot called the Illinois News Network, which provides stories free of charge to newspapers. That is troubling.
Schoenburg makes an important point about the Illinois Policy Institute’s credibility problem: The Illinois News Network’s Scott Reeder has been regularly touting Rauner’s policies for governor in newspapers around the state.
Capitol Fax's Rich Miller appeared to question whether the $500,000 was actually a conflict-of-interest and commented that Rauner is a “natural candidate” for Illinois Policy Institute to support given the group’s conservative leanings.
Really? A candidate who has made his fortune cutting deals with Democrats in return for making millions in public sector union pension fees is a “natural candidate” for the Illinois Policy Institute?
Perhaps Illinois Policy Institute isn’t all that conservative after all.
But the Illinois Policy Institute and its connected organizations and people are more connected to Rauner’s campaign than is being reported or emphasized.
Illinois Policy Institute board member Elizabeth Christie is Rauner’s campaign finance chairman. Bob Costello of the Illinois Opportunity Project – a sister organization to Illinois Policy Institute (which is housed in the same office space) is the treasurer for the PAC running Rauner’s term limits initiative.
Illinois Policy Institute’s John Tillman appears to be using every questionable legal trick in the book to help a wealthy candidate like Rauner despite his deep Democrat connections or maybe perhaps because of them.
But the real question is if Illinois Policy Institute can, arguably, misuse a 501(c)(3) group for political gain, why should any 501(c)(3) refrain from direct involvement in political campaigns?
If Tillman’s group has received $500,000 from Rauner thus far, another question must be asked: What else has Rauner promised him?
But Tillman isn’t alone in his diminishing credibility.
According to a former employee of Jack Roeser, Bruce Rauner has also given more than $500,000 to Family Taxpayer Network and Roeser's other organizations.
The employee, who asked not to be identified, says that Rauner has been close to Roeser for the last few years. According to a search of the State Board of Elections records, Rauner and his wife, Diana, a Democrat, donated more than $30,000 to Roeser’s Renaissance PAC in 2012 alone.
Although Roeser has claimed the pro-life and traditional marriage mantel for decades i.e. thus his organization's name "the Family Taxpayer Network," he was an early supporter of the socially liberal Rauner since he announced his campaign earlier this year.
Rauner told Greg Hinz of Crain’s that he“supports a woman's ability to decide early in a pregnancy,” and has refused to openly state his position on same sex marriage though he supports civil unions.
Roeser’s Champion News, which also positions its blog as “news,” has openly endorsed Rauner and has been aggressively attacking the other GOP candidates for governor – in particular, union contributions to Kirk Dillard and Dan Rutherford.
Yet no mention from Champion News on the millions in public sector union pension fees Rauner’s firm GTCR made over the decades or the thousands in Democrat contributions made – from all appearances – to secure that pension fund business.
Despite the hypocrisy, Champion News has also been attacking Dillard's positions on social issues, attempting to muddy the waters for conservative Christian voters.
When questioned about the obvious conflict-of-interest, Champion News editor Lennie Jarratt denied Rauner’s contributions to Roeser.