February 12, 2013 By: Mark Glennon

Suppose right wing groups started pouring big dollars into an Illinois Democratic primary race through PACs they passed off as “Democratic,” intending to knock out the guy they feared most before he got to the general election. And suppose the Republican Governors Association helped fund that effort.

Screams about deceitful subversion of the primary would be deafening — and those screams would be justified.

That’s the campaign unions and the Democratic Governors Association launched this week, except that it’s in the Republican primary to defeat Bruce Rauner, and that and those screams may be too few to be heard in blue Illinois. A huge mailing to Republican primary voters went out this week and TV ads just started, funded by unions and the Democratic Governors Association, all aimed at stopping Rauner.

Unions have every right to fund candidates in either party, and they’ve often crossed lines to support Republicans they least dislike. But for them to fund a PAC they call “Republican” is fraud. One calls itself the Republican Fund for Progress & Jobs. It’s funded by unions, and its only Republican connection is that it’s administered by a for-hire Republican campaign operative, who formerly worked for Congressman Aaron Shock — who is known to have a feud with Rauner.

Joining the effort is the Jobs and Opportunity for Illinois PAC, funded with hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Democratic Governors Association. Still another group named the conservative-sounding Illinois Freedom PAC is also funding the effort with at least $500,000 from AFSCME, the big public sector union.

It all reportedly adds up to about $2 million — a sum big enough to have a real effect.

The fraud works best if the media, whether out of sloppiness or bias, let voters think the money attacking Rauner is Republican. The Sun-Times ran an “exclusive” story a few days ago about the Republican Fund for Progress & Jobs under the headline “GOP group launches ‘shock and awe’ attack on Rauner.”  The truth about the funding was buried in the details. Their further story yesterday about the Illinois Freedom PAC’s ads doesn’t even mention that it’s union funded.  Some others in the media covered the story properly. Even Rich Miller of Capitolfax and Greg Hinz of Crain’s, both of whom have been on their own anti-Rauner jihad, have done a good job reporting the true funding sources.

The Democratic Governors’ Association and unions who will support the Democrat in the general election should be told the same thing about the Republican primary that should be told to, say, the Koch brothers and the Republican Governors Association if they were to intervene in a Democratic primary (and maybe they have elsewhere; I don’t know): Stay out. But let’s not be naive. They won’t. It’s up the media to report this right and to voters to see through it.


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6 years ago

I find it humorous that our party has somehow become a private club where only “us republicans” can play. I for one am happy to have participation of a diverse spectrum of people. To deny their participation is to say that they disagree with all republicans…they don’t. I, along with many union members, am conservative/republican and am happy to join in attempting to disable this anti-worker/anti-union candidate. He represents a wing of the party that uses anger toward workers who have chosen to unionize, a particular strategy (of which there are many) that I find disgusting. Mr. Rauner is no… Read more »

Mark Glennon
6 years ago
Reply to  Anonymous

Rauner always goes out of his way to say his beef is with public sector unions and that he is not generally anti-union. Everything I’ve heard him say during his campaign has been about public sector unions only. That’s certainly my personal view. I believe in collective bargaining in principle, but public unions are a very different story. Their extraordinary influence over government and elections, particularly in extracting unaffordable pensions, is what broke us. Your description of Rauner is the caricature of him portrayed in the campaign against him but does not conform to what he has said about unions… Read more »

6 years ago

Why isn’t the Illinois Republican party screaming bloody murder about this?

6 years ago
Reply to  KatieD

Good question. Actually, they have, but not very vocally. This stunt has the potential to backfire big time on the unions and the Dems and you’d think the GOP would exploit that. They do, however, need to remain neutral about GOP candidates through the primary.