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Meet Bruce Rauner, the Mitt Romney of Illinois politics (Part 2)

"Mitt Romney of Illinois politics is Bruce Rauner." This is part 2 of 3 parts. We told you in part 1 that Bruce Rauner would like to be the next governor of Illinois. Rauner is trying to buy his way into the governor's office. Like Mitt Romney who founded a private equity investment firm, Bain Capital, Bruce Rauner also founded a hedge fund/investment management firm.

Mitt Romney (left) has been compared to Bruce Rauner (right), namely, their love of money.
Romney (left) Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/AFP; Rauner (right) Brian Kersey/Getty Images

GTCR is the firm that Rauner founded and has managed a number of state pension funds across the United States.

Including in the state of Illinois.

Ironically, Rauner is a critic of the Illinois public pension system, in spite of the fact he personally profited from management of those funds for many years. The business netted Rauner millions of dollars in fees over a span of thirty years.

Through that firm, GTCR, Rauner managed the Illinois Teachers' Retirement System and the Illinois State Board of Investment. It also ran pension funds in other states too and there he also bought his way into the state of Pennsylvania's pension fund with donations to former Democratic Governor Ed Rendell.

Incredibly, Rauner likes to say on his campaign website that the state's pension system is "fundamentally corrupt and broken." As someone who has seen the workings of these pensions systems up close, it is an odd statement.

For the past three decades he has invested pension funds as a co-founder of GTCR LLC, Chicago's second-largest private-equity firm. For a broken system, GTCR earned millions in fees and perhaps that was part of the problem.

GTCR had more than $10 billion under management largely from public pensions nationwide, including the biggest in Illinois. As governor, he wants to use his insights to overhaul the state's pension system.

Since the pension reform bill has passed and over the next few decades will erase the unfunded liability, Rauner has still criticized the new law.

Rauner gets what he wants and uses his money, power and influence, which he uses to expand his increasing wealth.

The securing of these kinds of public contracts was extracted because of his relationship with the right people.

Rauner keenly understands the power of money. He lacks any real connection with the common man and woman, much like Romney. Rauner's campaign has eerie similarities to Romney's campaign, believing that labor unions are the enemy.

It is not a stretch that Rauner believes, as Romney, that "there are 47 percent who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it."

To understand Rauner is to understand Romney. The net worth of both men in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Both made their fortunes on managing of hedge funds. There are sure to be stories raised of companies that GTCR bought that didn't work out so well, a la Romney.

Like Romney, Rauner portrays labor unions and the working man and woman as the enemy.

Rauner says on his website, "The most powerful political force in Illinois today, by far, is the government employee labor unions."

A stunning statement indeed.


Because, Rauner says, "They (government employee public union) take their taxpayer-funded, government-collected union dues and funnel them by the tens of millions to politicians in both political parties."

Which is exactly what Rauner has done in his own business career and continues to do so. Rauner donated heavily to the power people in Illinois and ran, among other things, GTCR LLC, a Chicago private-equity firm.

The management of those two entities, Illinois Teachers' Retirement System and the Illinois State Board of Investment, which in turn netted Rauner millions, which fed upon itself as he continued to donate to the politicians that helped him gain those management contracts.

Much like the wealthy, but politically clumsy Romney, the wealthy Rauner feels entitled to whatever his heart desires. He is trying to bulldoze his way to the governor's office by tearing down everything in his way.

He loves to say "Illinois has been completely taken over by special interest groups that get money from government. The lobbyists write the bills for special interests, the career politicians in both parties let it happen – and we, the taxpayers, get left with the bill. It’s time to make government work for us, not the other way around."

Rauner qualifies as one of those special interests he railed against, which makes Rauner disingenuous.

Rauner has been a big part of the entitled corps of special interests in the state of Illinois. Much like Romney, Rauner has no soul or a real core. His donations to political candidates whether on the state of Illinois level or on the federal level shows he gave to a wide cross-section of candidates and elected officials?

The list is very long of the political candidates and elected officials whom he donated heavily.

According to Illinois Election Board records Rauner has donated at least $3.1 million dollars to various candidates from both parties which including one million dollars to his own campaign. Also included in that total are donations made to Republican organizations across the state of Illinois, a sort of reverse campaign donation.

These sizable donations gave Rauner access, by gaining access the old-fashioned way: "He bought it."

The government worked for Rauner, yet he continues to blast Democrats. "They own the Democratic Party. The folks who make their money from the government — AFSCME and SEIU and the teachers' unions and trial lawyers — you look at their financial muscle, who they've given donations to. They've got our taxpayers by the throats and they're squeezing. They've got our schoolchildren by the throats and they're squeezing them."

Rauner is a wealthy businessman whose accomplishments in making money for him and others are quite impressive. Rauner has also made others rich, including Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Rauner recently made public his income tax returns.

Like Romney, Rauner portrays himself as a "regular guy." He has taped a commercial in a work vest and talks about his cheap, inexpensive watch and makes an analogy about Pat Quinn and the government of Illinois.

"This old watch cost me eighteen bucks, pretty cheap but it gets the job done. Pat Quinn's watch in Springfield just the opposite, record spending, job losses, taxes, and one of the worst run governments in America," chirps Rauner.

Closes the commercial, presumably to Governor Quinn saying, "Your time, it's up."

Rauner released a new pair of commercials. "Hammer Down and Shake Up."

The commercials are symbolic of the campaign that Rauner is running, bulldozing his way to Springfield. The behavior that Rauner has showed as in obtaining the pension contract is more like "hammer up and shake down."

If elected, the citizens of Illinois will be in for a real hammering by Rauner, shaking down the people of Illinois.

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