Bruce Rauner may be behind attacks on Rutherford, GOP candidates

Chicago, Illinois - GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner - and close friend of Rahm Emanuel - has long denied he has anything to do with the mysterious attacks against his Republican opponents by out-of-state committees and cloaked donors. But in the wake of the latest allegations against Illinois treasurer Dan Rutherford reported Friday, Rauner's denials are wearing thin.

Let's consider these attacks one-by one:

After decades of a relatively clean record in Illinois politics - and that's saying something - GOP candidate for governor Dan Rutherford now finds himself in the middle of a political tornado just a few weeks before the primary: a Rutherford employee has suddenly accused him of sexual harassment (word is it's a male) and, further, that Rutherford pressured him to do campaign work on state time.

Apparently, the complainer's attorney, Christine Svenson approached Rutherford's office and demanded $300,000 in hush money for her client to keep the allegation under wraps.

But Rutherford would have none of it and held a press conference Friday shining a big ole' light on the allegations and pointed the finger of blame at his opponent gazillionaire money manager Rauner as the culprit.

Svenson had previously done some legal work for Rauner (who has his pick of any lawyer anywhere so why choose Svenson?) and is connected to the Illinois Policy Institute, a 501(c)(3) organization, which received $500,000 from Rauner. As it happens, IPI's main board member, Elizabeth Christie, is also Rauner's co-finance chair.

IPI is linked to another group - the Illinois Opportunity Project, a 501(c)(4) group is housed at the same office space. A board member of this group, Robert Costello, was treasurer of Rauner's term limits petition committee. Svenson is also the attorney for Dan Proft, another IOP board member and senior fellow of Illinois Policy Institute.

Coincidence?

Rauner, of course, has denied that he had anything to do with the convenient allegations against Rutherford, who is second in the polls and is the only GOP candidate with enough money to run TV spots.

Everything about this attack on Rutherford is suspicious: the strangely convenient timing, Rutherford's practically spotless record, Svenson's ties to Rauner, and a year of mysterious attacks against Rauner's political competition in general.

Mysterious attacks? Yes, there have been many mysterious attacks against Rauner's opponents and all of them have been from third-party untraceable entities with cloaked donors.

This week, a 501(c)(4) called Mid America Fund spent $180,000 on broadcast and radio ad spots against Rauner's three GOP opponents this week. The agent for the fund is Roberta J. Mertz of St. Clairsville, Ohio.

The group can spend unlimited amounts savaging Rauner's opponents - as long as Rauner is not connected to the group. So, again, Rauner is denying he has anything to do with the mystery PAC's spending. The media - to date - have just repeated Rauner's denials.

All of this is reminiscent of two other mysterious attacks against another Rauner opponent, Rep. Aaron Schock, who announced an exploratory committee for governor early last year.

The Jobs and Progress Fund - another mysterious Ohio-based PAC - financed more than $700,000 in negative TV and radio ads and mailers against Schock in his home district in January 2013 - right after he announced his interest in running for governor.

In a statement on Facebook, Schock's Chief of Staff, Steven Shearer suggested Rauner was again the culprit. Again, Rauner's campaign denied any involvement.

Still stung over the attack ads on Schock, Shearer formed the Republican Fund for Jobs and Progress last month to "educate voters about GOP candidate Bruce Rauner."

Within days of the PAC being formed, Gawker released a sketchy piece attempting to out Schock as gay with a rumor-laced Facebook post by journalist Itay Hod. Not exactly a bright and shining moment in the annals of journalism.

For GOP primary voters, Rauner's relationship with Rahm and his hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions to the Democrat party in return for union pension business (yes, that's what it looks like) is not a plus.

The upshot: now Rutherford and Schock have both been attacked with gay rumor-filled controversies and Ohio-based political action committees with cloaked donors spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in negative ads against them.

This is not something the media should be so casually dismissing.

If Rauner is behind these attacks - and there is significant reason to believe he is - he has truly mastered the art of political deceit and manipulation. The portrait of Bruce Rauner that is emerging is not one of a principled outsider but of a vindictive, power-hungry politician.

Perhaps Rauner has learned a lesson or two from his pal Rahm after all.

Comments

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  • And Rootherford may be behind his own lack of comprehension of the issues.

  • In reply to jack:

    Dear Jack,

    I understand you sexually harass your employees. Better be careful or I might pay of them to write a letter about you.

    Love,
    Bruce

  • In reply to williamjkelly:

    I have no employees, you jerk.

  • In reply to jack:

    Boy, can't take a joke. Lighten up. The idea is the same. If anyone can accuse anyone of anything without evidence, then there is nothing stopping me from accusing you of anything or vice versa.

  • In reply to jack:

    Really Jack ? Let's elect another cheating business person that is in it for himself...Rauner He isn't electable on his own....ask him about the issues...zero experience working with people he can't "buy"

  • In reply to Regularjoe:

    As I noted earlier, the only logical conclusions from the Kelly Truth [sic] squad is to reelect Quinn. I'm not willing to do that.

  • In reply to jack:

    The only logical conclusion to the article is: that Bruce Rauner is not necessarily the candidate he claims to be and that the media should be questioning - not overlooking - these third-party attacks from unknown sources. Basic.

  • Oh please, this is cloud watching, and you call it "truth"? Show me a smoking gun, rather than speculations.

  • In reply to BobSchneider:

    Bob - this isn't the movies . Men like Rauner live in the shadows - this is a great article shining light on the scum bags in Illinois politics....

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    In reply to BobSchneider:

    These are facts. FYI: A smoking gun is a speculation, stupid.

  • In reply to BobSchneider:

    The media has the resources to investigate these 501c4s. That is what they should be doing. They are not.

  • Rauner is trying to buy the election - come on people he isn't like us...he buys whatever he wants ! Just like Rahm, fly into Chicago and run for Mayor...

    Rutherford is honest and good at what he does...Rauner can't beat him !

  • In reply to Regularjoe:

    As I said before, he has no comprehension of the issues. Cooperating with Madigan and Cullerton is not a policy.

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