Illinois governor pours in nearly $46 million as part of bid to cut Speaker Madigan’s power



Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner speaks at the Illinois State Fair on Aug. 17, 2016, in Springfield. (Anthony Souffle/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

With little more than two weeks until Election Day, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s personal investment in eroding the ranks of legislative Democrats led by House Speaker Michael Madigan has grown to nearly $46 million, state campaign finance records show.

The massive influx of cash represents the election-year battle lines playing out in Illinois after more than a year of fighting between Rauner, the first-term governor, and Madigan, the nation’s longest-serving speaker, over the future of the state.

Democrats hold supermajorities in the House and Senate and have been able to stymie Rauner’s economic agenda, which calls for changes in laws that would weaken traditional Democratic allies in organized labor and among workers’ compensation attorneys.


The Democrats’ refusal to move on those issues led to a lengthy budget stalemate, which culminated in a temporary spending plan that expires Jan. 1.

State filings show the governor and wife Diana Rauner donated an additional $9 million Thursday to the campaign fund of House Republican leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs. Durkin almost immediately transferred $5 million to the House Republican Organization, the campaign arm of the House GOP, and $3 million to the Illinois Republican Party.

The latest influx comes after Rauner’s campaign fund about a week earlier sent $3 million to Durkin, to be funneled to individual Republican House campaigns. Durkin’s campaign fund also benefited from a $3 million donation Friday from billionaire hedge-fund founder Ken Griffin, a Rauner ally.

All told, Rauner, his family and his campaign fund have doled out $45.8 million in political contributions this year. Of the $29 million the Illinois Republican Party has raised this year, nearly $21 million has come from Rauner and $4 million this month through Durkin’s campaign fund.

It’s the latest spate of spending for Rauner, who became wealthy as an equity investor.

In his 2014 win over then-Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, Rauner spent more than $65 million, including $27.6 million in personal funds. With Madigan now Rauner’s target, Durkin’s campaign fund has collected nearly $18 million this year, $12 million from Rauner and $5 million from Griffin, the founder and CEO of Citadel.

Michael Madigan and Bruce Rauner. (TNS)
Michael Madigan and Bruce Rauner. (TNS)

Griffin on Friday also wrote an additional $2 million check to Republican Comptroller Leslie Geissler Munger, who is seeking election to the office against Democratic Chicago City Clerk Susana Mendoza.


Like the battle for legislative seats, the statewide contest between Munger and Mendoza for the comptroller’s office is similarly viewed as a proxy war for Rauner and Madigan. Munger was appointed to serve as comptroller by Rauner following the death of Judy Baar Topinka.

Munger has raised $8.6 million for the special election, mainly from five sources: $5 million from Griffin; $2 million from conservative GOP donor Richard Uihlein; $1 million from Rauner’s campaign; $260,000 from a loan from Munger’s husband, John; and $120,500 from the state Republican Party.

All other sources to her campaign added up to $267,997, records showed.

Mendoza, a former state lawmaker, has raised just more than $2 million for her campaign.

The state Democratic Party, which Madigan chairs, provided $150,000; a number of labor unions have contributed as well.

All told, Griffin has made more than $11.1 million in donations this year — $5 million apiece to Durkin and Munger, and $1 million to the Liberty Principles political action committee that is allied with Rauner in several GOP legislative campaigns.


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