Chicago, Illinois - GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner talks but does he really answer questions? Many media have criticized Rauner's lack of response or detailed plan about how he would fix what is broken in Springfield, how he would modify the power of public unions, about his financial relationship to charter schools, and many, many other annoying specifics.
It is arguable whether this stonewalling strategy worked well for him in the recent GOP primary - he won by just a little over 2% of the vote against Sen. Kirk Dillard after spending $6 million of his own money on TV ads.
Rauner has a serious problem when it comes to answering questions with any specifics. He knows that when you talk specifics, you risk criticism and votes.
That is why Rauner's aides work so hard to shield him. They resent certain questions and - apparently - certain reporters. That was certainly the case when Rauner and his aides were questioned at the recent Illinois Educators Association's annual meeting.
Rauner's top aide, Lance Trover, was stationed at the door of the event and he was deciding which reporters to let into the room to hear the debate between Bruce Rauner and Gov. Pat Quinn. Mind you, it wasn't Trover's or Rauner's event. I showed my Chicago press credential and he shut the door on me. Other reporters and TV crews were visible in the room.
Keep in mind, I've never met Trover before.
A few minutes later, Rauner exited the room and I asked him a few questions. Again, he dismissively dodged the questions.
One issue Rauner hasn't talked about much is his deep involvement in Mayor Emanuel's Chicago casino proposal. So I posed this question to him:
"Are you looking forward to giving Rahm his Chicago casino? Is this [the governor's race] what this is really all about?
No comment from Rauner.
Until he announced his candidacy for governor, Rauner was the Chairman of Choose Chicago and was aggressively leading the push for Emanuel's billion dollar Chicago casino and a plan to raise more than $30 billion in investment. The plan requires state approval and that is where a hypothetical Governor Rauner could be very helpful to Emanuel.
Rauner was ushered away with his security detail and that was the end of the question and no answer period.
A few minutes later, I decided to try to get some answers from Trover, who was still in the hallway speaking with other reporters. Trover is a former top aide to Sen. Mark Kirk.
Trover - again, whom I have never met before - seemed to know me and called me casually by my first name. I asked him "why Rauner won't answer questions." He waived his hand disrespectfully. I tried again. His response was to curse me and call me and call a few of the reporters present "idiots."
"Get that f**kig thing away from me, Bill." Trover said referring to my microphone.
Is this the kind of arrogance what we can expect if Rauner is elected?
Fortunately, I am not fazed by bad behavior from politicians or their subpar staffs.
Ignoring Trover's crude response, I patiently explained to him that voters deserve to have their questions answered and that Rauner's lack of responsiveness is not what being a leader is all about. Again, Trover laughed off my comments and questions.
Rauner and his aides may not have any respect for the voters of Illinois but they do have respect for Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
As they hopped into a car, I asked Rauner spokesman Mike Schrimpf about how Rahm made millions in commissions from Rauner's SBC deal back in 2001. Schrimpf's response?
"Rahm worked hard."
Really, Rahm worked hard?
Despite having no experience, Rahm was hired as an investment banker after he left the Clinton White House and helped Rauner's GTCR receive an FCC exemption.
According to the Chicago Tribune:
FCC regulations were forcing SBC to divest itself of SecurityLink. So GTCR, Rauner's firm, tapped Rahm Emanuel to use his influence with the Clinton Administration to make an exception. It was another sneaky insider maneuver. In the end, SBC financed all but $100 million of GTCR's $479 million purchase of the firm. After less than six months, Rauner's firm sold SecurityLink for $1 billion and made a quick $500 million in profit.
Will Bruce Rauner's approach to Springfield insiders be the same approach he used with DC insiders? An approach that has made him a billionaire?
That is a good question too.
To date, Rauner has gotten a pass on questions about his relationship with Stuart Levine, his relationship to the Ohio-based independent expenditure PACs that attacked his GOP political opponents, and his contributions to Republican non-profits that helped his campaign during the primary.
Hopefully, the voters of Illinois will actually get some answers from Bruce Rauner before the election - not after.