Republican gubernatorial candidate BRUCE RAUNER has donated more than $500,000 to the Illinois Policy Institute over the last five years.
The institute, which bills itself as a free-market, liberty-based organization, promotes a range of policies and has writers in an offshoot called the Illinois News Network, which provides stories free of charge to newspapers. That is troubling.
When in Springfield last week, Rauner called himself a “significant donor” to the policy institute. He said he didn’t recall the amount, and when I suggested a large number, he said, “I love you, man.”
I said that wasn’t an answer.
\”Yes it is,” he said, adding that he also has given to Americans for Prosperity, Club for Growth and CATO Institute.
“I’m a free-market conservative, and I’ve supported many causes around the nation for free-market conservative principles,” he said.
Rauner’s spokesman, MIKE SCHRIMPF, got specific this week.
“Bruce has long been a supporter of (the Illinois Policy Institute) and has contributed more than half a million dollars over the last five years,” Schrimpf said.
I also had asked if it was fair for an organization backed by Rauner to be publishing information about the governor’s race without disclosing his backing.
Rauner, said Schrimpf, “admires and respects their independent reporting and thinks they add value to the public policy debate in Illinois.”
I first learned of the Illinois News Network when I covered some events this summer with a new reporter from that organization — JACKSON ADAMS. One event was at the State Fair, when reporters surrounded Democratic Gov. PAT QUINN. Adams asked the governor why a 401(k)-style plan wasn’t part of a pension-reform plan. That’s a fair question, but it also is true that the policy institute likes the 401(k) model for public employees. So does Rauner.
State Treasurer DAN RUTHERFORD, one of Rauner’s three rivals for the GOP nomination for governor, said that when at a “meet and greet” in Pekin Friday, someone he didn’t know wearing a badge that said “media” and “Illinois News Network” wanted an interview. Rutherford hadn’t heard of that group.
SCOTT REEDER, the Illinois Policy Institute’s “journalist in residence,” then contacted Rutherford, and said he had sent the reporter, MICHAEL STASTNY, to Pekin, and that all GOP candidates are being questioned. Rutherford said Stastny then showed up Sunday in Hoopeston, and Rutherford spoke with him. More…