Rauner announces he's running for governor, doesn't mention Payton Prep charge | Bleader

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Rauner announces he's running for governor, doesn't mention Payton Prep charge

Posted By on 06.05.13 at 02:19 PM

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Failing schools fail our children, Bruce Rauner says.
In a stunning development, the Bruce Rauner Exploratory Committee has concluded its explorations by deciding that Rauner should, in fact, run for governor in next year's Republican primary.

Rauner, who says he's not one of those typical politicians, made the announcement in a slick video on his website, produced with some of the $1.5 million his exploratory committee has collected. "I could ride a horse at six, milk a cow at eight, fire a rifle at ten," Rauner says in the video.

I expected him to add that he would then eat at noon and nap at two, but instead he went on to say that he "started out flippin' burgers and parkin' cars." It was but a short step to venture capitalism, where Rauner made a fortune. Now he's pledging to donate $50 million of it to his campaign, because he knows how "to turn this state around."

"Typical politics is not the answer," Rauner explains in the video. "Lobbyists run the government for special interests. Powerful union bosses and trial lawyers own the Democratic Party, and a large part of the Republican Party too."

Illinois pols have been "overspending, overtaxing, overregulating," he says. "The only thing Springfield underdoes is education." His video at this point shows some black kids on a concrete playground, a scene that looks grim because it's shot through a chain-link fence. "Failing schools fail our children," Rauner says. "And that's a moral failure we can't allow."

As I wrote a month ago, Rauner has sidestepped questions about whether he clouted a daughter into Payton College Prep in 2008. In April, Greg Hinz, columnist for Crain's Chicago Business, made a strong case that Rauner used his influence to gain his daughter a place in Payton, one of the nation's elite high schools, after her test scores failed to get her in. Hinz wrote that according to sources, Rauner called Arne Duncan—then CEO of Chicago Public Schools, now the U.S. education secretary—on behalf of his daughter, after which a Duncan aide contacted the Payton principal, after which Rauner's daughter was admitted.

"It's all baloney," Rauner told the Sun-Times a few days after Hinz's story. "It's just minor. It's stuff that doesn't matter, it may have partial truths in it."

What are the "partial truths"? I e-mailed his exploratory committee in early May to ask. No response. When a Daily Herald reporter quizzed him about Payton last month, Rauner said the clout charge was "just basic political attack baloney. I don't put any credence to it. My wife and I did nothing wrong. We advocated for our children. Every parent should advocate for their children. That's not a crime."

I hope reporters continue to ask Rauner about the "partial truths" in the Payton episode. Yes, there are bigger issues. But the integrity of a candidate is also important—particularly in a race for Illinois governor. And, sure, every parent should advocate for his or her children. But some parents have more influence than others, and using it to give your kid an unfair advantage isn't the same as "advocating." A governor wannabe should know the difference—especially one who derides "typical politics" and "special interests" and "moral failures".

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