Over the past few days, Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner's numerous paid supporters have come out on social media to shriek, attack, rage, and castigate those Independent, Republican, and Democrat voters who have not yet partaken of the 'Rauner Kool-Aid.'
They demand: Drink it!
Nope, I won't drink the Kool-Aid.
With disgust, I've read the reports about Bruce Rauner and the Illinois Republican Party sending gun-toting private investigators to intimidate the Libertarian Party's petition circulators and pressure them into signing false affidavits. Any criminal wrongdoing should be fully prosecuted.
The Libertarian Party's experience reminded me of my own "initiation" into Illinois politics.
Years ago, I decided to run for countywide office and my opponent - unbeknownst to me - was Gov. Jim Edgar's secretary son. My supporters and I gathered the necessary 10,000 signatures in frigid temperatures and were quite proud of each other by the time filing day came around.
A few days later, there was a knock at the door. My opponent was challenging my petitions. But it wasn't any petition challenge. My opponent had hired ex-sheriffs deputies to scare little old ladies into signing false affidavits that said I had forged their names on my petitions. Intimidating little old ladies and charging a kid with perjury - it doesn't get any lower than that especially in a race that a Republican had no chance to win in the general election.
Well, we found those little old ladies and gathered letters from them recanting their false affidavits. The election commissioners laughed the complaint out the door and dropped the perjury charge. Mike Kasper, the election lawyer who filed the complaint, told me afterwards, "It was nothing personal."
The moral of the story is that I despise bully candidates and their thug tactics and I believe that is what Bruce Rauner is: a bully. He has all the tells:
Rauner clouted his kid into Walter Payton Prep at the expense of the kid who deserved it.
Together, Rauner and his longtime friend, Chicago Sun-Times boss Michael Ferro, cooked up a last minute “Rauner-only” endorsement. No other candidates, no questionnaires, and no endorsement sessions. It was a laughable reversal of the Times’ three-year moratorium not to endorse any candidates.
Dave McKinney also claims Ferro put the kibosh on him after he published a story about LeapSource CEO Christine Kirk and the alleged threats Rauner made against her and her family.
Another lawsuit links Rauner and his former company, GTCR to nursing home deaths and alleges a fraudulent shell company with no assets was set-up to deny victims compensation.
Two years ago, Rauner also began making large cash payments to Republican, tea party, and other right-wing groups. In 2008, the same groups stood on hilltops and angrily railed, fists pumping in the air, against "pay to play" politics, Illinois corruption, and anyone connected with the name, 'Rod Blagojevich.'
However, as soon Bruce Rauner showed up with his checkbook, these groups fell quickly in line. Freedomworks' Matt Kibbe was among the first to sign-on to Team Rauner. Rauner paid other 501(c)3 groups like the Illinois Policy Institute and Jack Roeser's Family Taxpayers Foundation more than a half million each and, in return, these groups helped organize his political ground game during the GOP primary.
A controversial email from Diana Rauner released Friday offers more proof that the Rauner campaign cut some "deals" with anti-abortion groups to "put aside their views on this issue." How did Bruce Rauner do that exactly?
These groups had no problem looking past Rauner's sordid insider history. He claims he is an outsider but Rauner made his fortune trading political donations in exchange for union pension contract business across the country. Tea party groups were also mum on Rauner's lucrative connections to Blagojevich's political fixer and convicted felon, Stuart Levine.
During the primary, I was outspoken about my opposition to Rauner in GOP circles due to his troubling relationship with Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Months later, an acquaintance told me that John Lappe of Pandarus Research, a division of Campbell Campaigns, contacted him and that Lappe was looking for "dirt" on me. Campbell Campaigns was the firm hired by Rauner to manage the term limits petition drive.
Really? Because I criticized Rauner? There's more to the story but you get the idea.
After the primary, I had an unrelated meeting with a representative from Campbell Campaigns who bragged about how "when Bruce does go after someone he is not going to have his fingerprints on it" and how he plans to take care of his opponents "after the election." Is this kind of vindictive man who should hold political power?
Over the past year, I've also watched Rauner promise voters over and over again that he would provide specific details about his plan to "Shake up Springfield." It is just one day before election and there are still NO DETAILS.
In his million-dollar TV ad buys, Rauner promises he'll enact term limits but, in another ruse, his massive term limits ballot initiative didn't even get past the Illinois Supreme Court. Rauner promises that he won't raise property taxes but he will solve Illinois' financial crisis - without cutting anyone's pensions and he will increase spending on education and infrastructure.
The experts agree: Again, this does not add up.
But Rauner's refusal to provide any specifics of his plans didn't stop the oh-so-honest editorial boards at major Illinois newspapers from endorsing Rauner's political ponies and rainbows.
Money can buy many things. It can buy a newspaper endorsement.It can buy the Republican Party. It might even be enough to buy the State of Illinois.
Hopefully, it won't but we know that until Tuesday.