As gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner’s Republican rivals struggle to make up ground against his front-runner status, outside efforts by third-party groups to attack the wealthy Winnetka businessman are increasing.
The latest salvo comes from a group known as Illinois Freedom PAC, which has begun airing ads tying Rauner to problems and potential abuse in nursing homes his former company, venture capital firm GTCR, had an investment stake in.
Illinois Freedom PAC, funded in part by public employee unions, previously ran TV ads attempting to link Rauner to convicted political fixer Stuart Levine. The new ads, however, shift the focus on an area many of Rauner’s critics see as potentially fertile ground: his role as the head of a venture capital firm that engaged in potentially predatory business practices.
The ads specifically accuse Rauner’s company of “draining money from nursing homes, leaving seniors to suffer from malnutrition and dehydration.” In a press release, Illinois Freedom PAC said:
“Bruce Rauner brags that his business experience qualifies him to be governor, but what he leaves out is that his companies, such as Trans Health, prioritize corporate profits over human life,” says Michael Murray, spokesman for Illinois Freedom. “As a venture capitalist, Bruce Rauner owned a company that deliberately neglected the elderly to make a quick buck, and now he wants middle class families to believe he will look out for their interests as governor?
Whether or not such a line of attack can prove effective in the weeks before Primary Day is yet to be seen, of course. Many political observers believed Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican candidate for president, was especially vulnerable to a similar line of attack as the head of a national venture capital firm.
However, despite attempts by Democrats and outside groups to tie Romney to stories of corporate mismanagement and possible greed, the charges never really succeeded in defining Romney in the minds of many voters.
For his part, Rauner and his campaign struck back late Tuesday.
“It’s shameful that Pat Quinn and his special interest friends are blatantly ignoring the truth and invoking others’ personal tragedies in an attempt at political gain,” said Chip Englander, campaign manager for Bruce Rauner. “This is politics at its worst and Pat Quinn, the Democratic Governors Association and the government union bosses behind this ad should be ashamed.”