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Illinois Republican gubernatorial candidate businessman Bruce Rauner smiles during a debate Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2014, in Naperville, Ill. The four candidates vying for the 2014 Republican nomination for governor faced off in a debate on the central issue in the campaign _ the state's economy. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)
Bruce Rauner (R. IL), you are the gift that just keeps on giving:

Crain's Chicago Business reports that a company once partially owned by Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner started making campaign contributions to Illinois Democrats just after it won a multimillion-dollar Cook County contract.

 In 2000 the Cook County Board approved a deal with HealthRev Inc. to collect Medicaid bills. County records show HealthRev was paid $8.8 million. HealthRev was owned until 2004 by GTCR LLC, a firm partially owned by Rauner.

State records obtained by Crain's show that just after the deal was approved the company made the first of $8,000 in contributions to then-Cook County President John Stroger's campaign and a related account. - NBC Chicago, 7/9/14

Here's a little more information:

Crain's Chicago Business reports that 11 campaign contributions were made to then-Cook County Board President John Stroger's campaign fund along with Todd Stroger's 8th Ward Regular Democratic Organization at the same time Cook County was awarding that company, HealthRev, a "series of contracts over four years."

HealthRev also gave a $5,000 contribution to "the Democratic Party of Illinois, Mr. Madigan, chairman."

State records show HealthRev was first registered with the state in 1999 and was owned by GTCR LLC, Rauner's private equity firm. Over the years, HealthRev did business under a number of different names.

Crain's reports that in Jan. 2000, the Cook County Board, with the elder Stroger presiding, approved a three-year deal with HealthRev, which was at the time was valued at approximately $1.2 million a year for the company. But records show the firm earned $8.8 million from June 2000 to April 2003. - Chicago Sun-Times, 7/9/14

Here's the story:

In 1999, a firm named HealthRev Inc. registered with the Illinois Secretary of State, records show.

It was owned by GTCR LLC, the big private equity firm of which Mr. Rauner was the "R" in the name. HealthRev did business under various names in coming years, including Argent Healthcare, Argent Healthcare Financial Services and Healthcare Revenue Management. Specifically, the firm assisted health care providers with Medicaid eligibility, receivables management and collections.

 GTCR lists Argent Healthcare Services Inc. on its website as one of its former companies. GTCR did not respond to repeated requests to comment for this story.

Now, GTCR owned a lot of companies at the time. But according to a 1999 filing with the Florida Secretary of State, Mr. Rauner was one of only four names listed on an application to do business with that state. He was one of two directors (the other also from GTCR) with others serving as CEO and president.

HealthRev hit the ground running. On Jan. 6, 2000, the Cook County Board, John Stroger presiding, approved a three-year pact with the company giving it a cut of any Medicaid collections it could make in the county's huge balance of charity care debt, according to the agenda for that meeting (go to page 11). The pact then was estimated to bring in about $1.2 million a year for HealthRev.

Actually, the company did much better than that. According to the county, the firm was paid $8.8 million between June 2000 and April 2003. It earned another $1.9 million after the contract was renewed late in 2002, with the bulk of that coming before it sold the company to another private group in 2004.

Almost immediately after the first contract was approved by Mr. Stroger's county board in January 2000, good things started happening to Mr. Stroger's personal campaign fund and his 8th Ward organization account, which supported the activities of John Stroger and then 8th Ward Ald. Todd Stroger.

On April 18, 2000, Citizens for (John) Stroger got a $1,500 contribution from HealthRev. It was the first political donation the company made in Illinois, according to State Board of Elections records.

More money quickly followed, to Citizens for Stroger and to the 8th Ward account, some from HealthRev, some from Argent Healthrev and some from Argent Healthcare Financial Services. It wasn't a huge amount, a bit under $8,000. But the largesse started just when the contract did and ended around the time GTCR sold the company in 2004.

The company in all of its assumed names has only given to two others. That was a $1,000 contribution to 10th Congressional District Democrats in 2000, and $5,000 to Mr. Madigan on Oct. 30 of that year, just a few days before the election.

Madigan spokesman Steve Brown say he doesn't know what that contribution was about. But it's no secret that Mr. Madigan at the time had enormous influence in county government.

And that tax lien?

In May of 2001, the state filed a notice to collect $81,097.43 in taxes, penalties and interest from Healthcare Revenue Management, doing business as Health Revenue Management. A Rauner spokesman said the details of what occurred then are not available now. However, the company operated out of the same address on West Peterson Avenue in Chicago listed by Argent Healthcare Financial Services Inc. and HealthRev Inc. The lien remains because $48 has yet to be paid, the department says. - Crain's Chicago Business, 7/9/14

So for all of you who were hoping that Lisa Madigan, Michael Madigan's daughter, would challenge Quinn and become the nominee, maybe she made the right choice not doing so.  Now here are Rauner and Quinn's responses:

Republican candidate for governor of Illinois Bruce Rauner prepares to speak at a public forum at the University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois March 4, 2014. REUTERS/Terrence Antonio James/Pool
As in other similar cases, Rauner spokesman Mike Schrimpf denied any connection, saying, "Bruce had no role in the contributions or knowledge of them. In fact, Bruce was one of Stroger's biggest adversaries and spent years trying to defeat Stroger and his top allies in Cook County government."

However, that opposition to Stroger came later when Rauner made big contributions to former Board member and current CEO of the CTA, Forest Claypool.

Rauner spokesperson Mike Schrimpf made similar denials concerning Rauner's relationship with another despised figure in Illinois politics. Rauner himself denied a relationship with Stuart Levine, a federal felon serving 5 1/2 years for money laundering and fraud. Levine was on the payroll of a company owned by Rauner, but Rauner told Hinz that he didn't know the felon and fixer, Stuart Levine. In fact, Levine was paid $25,000 a month by Rauner's GTCR firm, at the very time the firm was asking a state pension board, on which Mr. Levine then served as a board member, to give it a large allotment of pension investments in the millions of dollars. Rauner claimed he never met the man and deliberately struggles at the sound of his name, despite the fact he is asked about it continually.

In another similar event, Rauner wrote big checks to then Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell because they shared a love of school reform, not because GTCR wanted a piece of Pennsylvania's lucrative state pension investment management business. But it turned out that Rauner got the pension business too.

Quinn's Illinois Deputy Press Secretary Izabela Miltko released a statement, saying in part, "Whether it's profiting off a conflict of interest with Stuart Levine or making $300,000 in campaign contributions to a candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania that leads to more public pension business and $4 million in profits for his own firm, billionaire Bruce Rauner knows how to throw money around to get what he wants."

Quinn spokesperson Miltko added, "Now, we're finding that he threw around his money in Cook County in a pay-to-play Medicaid scheme of which he conveniently denies any knowledge. Not only are his pay-to-play methods part of a pattern; so, too, are his denials." Miltko added, "The latest revelation shows Bruce Rauner for exactly who he is: A billionaire who gamed the system to get rich while the rest of us play by a different set of rules." - Chicago Examiner, 7/10/14

Quinn's also been hitting Rauner on this:

Calling a press conference Tuesday, Quinn sniped: "We don't need a loophole governor and that's what Rauner is all about."

Quinn requested Rauner fork over more than the few pages of documents he made public last year. Rauner disclosed three years of returns from 2010-2012 and has vowed to reveal his 2013 forms when "they're ready."

The pressure's on for Rauner to deliver on that promise following a July 2 report by the Chicago Tribune that dug deep to expose damningly detailed evidence that the businessman had taken advantage of an accounting strategy widespread among investment companies to slash taxes for certain partners.

The founder of the Chicago private equity firm GTCR did nothing illegal, but he did dodge Social Security and Medicare payments. On top of that, Rauner -- who's worth some $500 million -- placed in roughly the same 19 percent tax bracket as Quinn despite reporting income of $108 million over several years, enough to qualify him for the former top-tier bracket of 35 percent.

"The schedules tell the tale, all the details needed to determine if there are conflicts of interest and what loopholes are being used by Mr. Rauner to slash his tax burden and shift that burden onto working people," said Quinn, milking another moment to cast the GOP nominee as an out-of-touch gazillionaire. - NBC Chicago, 7/9/14

Yep, Rauner just keeps looking worse and worse and that can only help Quinn.  Quinn by the way way has been out on the campaign trail talking about this:

Mini-Abe, one of Illinois' principal tourism advertising icons, must be doing something right.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, who is running for re-election this fall, appeared at Chicago's Kendall College this morning to announce that the state had a record number of visitors — 105.7 million to be exact — in 2013. The 2013 result marks the third year in a row that Illinois has attracted a record number of visitors.

Quinn also noted that the state was visited by 2.2 million international travelers in 2013, up 3 percent from the previous year. Some of the strongest visitor growth was seen in the pure tourism travel sector, with leisure travel to the state up 5.7 percent in 2013, compared to the previous year.

State data shows visitors spent $34.5 billion in Illinois in 2013, generating $2.6 billion in state and local tax revenues. In addition, the Illinois tourism workforce grew to 301,100 in 2013, a net addition of 2,400 new jobs year over year. - Chicago Business Journal, 7/10/14

And Quinn is getting praise for this:

SPRINGFIELD, IL - JANUARY 30:  Illinois Governor Pat Quinn holds his first press conference since being appointed governor yesterday following former Governor Rod Blagojevich's removal from office by the Illinois Senate January 30, 2009 in Springfield, Illinois. The Senate yesterday voted 59-0 to remove Blagojevich from office following an impeachment trial. Blagojevich has been accused by federal authorities of corruption including offering to sell the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by President-elect Barack Obama.  (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Voting is the most basic principle of democracy.

Yet few people exercise their right to vote. A lot of it is indifference, but some of it is the obstacles we place in front of people to be able to vote.

So, we were pleased Tuesday when Gov. Pat Quinn signed a bill passed by the Illinois Legislature that will remove more restrictions for people who want to cast a ballot in November.

A cynic would suggest these reforms are nothing more than an attempt by Democrats to bring people more likely to vote Democratic to the polls. There’s probably some truth to that, but what’s wrong with getting more people involved in the process? And what’s stopping them from voting for candidates from any party?

This law would allow Election Day registration and would extend the early voting period by a day to the Sunday before the election. It also would let public universities, including Northern Illinois University, set up a campus location for in-person absentee voting on Election Day. We support all of these actions. We’re wary of another provision that removes the photo identification requirement for in-person early voting, but are open to testing it as long as officials watch out for potential voter fraud and an evaluation is done after the November election. - Clinton Herald, 7/10/14

We can still hold onto this seat and defeat Rauner but we need to make sure our base gets out to the polls.  Click here to donate and get involved with Quinn's campaign:

Originally posted to pdc on Thu Jul 10, 2014 at 11:20 PM PDT.

Also republished by The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party, Chicago Kossacks, and Land of Lincoln Kos.

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