Snubbed financier says he’ll belatedly pay up for Gov. Rauner’s prize-winning steer


Anthony Souffle | Chicago Tribune

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

Gov. Bruce Rauner and his wife, Diana, became the proud owners of a $50,000 prize-winning steer called Snuggles on Tuesday night after winning a charity auction at the Illinois State Fair.

But the auction organizers might want to double count the cash.

Of the “record” $104,000 Rauner bid for a prize steer at the same event in 2016, only $84,000 has so far been paid, organizers said.


That’s because one of the private donors who was helping Rauner cover the cost of the pricey beast refused to pay the $20,000 he committed.

Financier R.J. D’Orazio — a big Rauner supporter — confirmed to Chicago Inc. on Tuesday that he had not paid the $20,000 because “I did not get any recognition.”

D’Orazio said that when he initially committed to donate $10,000 to $15,000, he was told “there would be some kind of article in the Chicago Tribune” recognizing his donation to charities including the Illinois 4-H Club.

D’Orazio did said Tuesday night he would “be happy to wire the $20,000 first thing in the morning if someone tells me where to send it.”

An auction organizer told Inc. that D’Orazio had been pursued for the money until March, when organizers finally gave up.

Rauner, who was hailed as the record-breaking bidder last year, told Inc. he was unaware of D’Orazio’s failure to pay.

“I haven’t heard that,” he said.


D’Orazio’s failure to pay means the governor has been stripped — at least for now — of his status as the owner of the most expensive livestock sold at the state fair.

The program for this year’s auction lists an earlier auction won for $100,000 as the highest amount ever bid. It records Rauner’s winning bid of last year as $84,000, listing “friends of the Wisnefski family” and D’Orazio’s investment firm, D’Orazio Capital Partners, as co-donors.

D’Orazio said he intended to make the donation in a private capacity, not through his firm. He had seen Rauner at a fundraiser since last year’s auction but “the governor didn’t bring it up,” he said.

He added, “I apologize. I didn’t realize that it was going to be put out that the governor was buying it on his own. I was doing a favor for a friend.”


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