Gov. Pat Quinn is fighting back against Bruce Rauner with specific aim at his Republican rival's Achilles heel: the case involving claims of wrongful death and abuse at Florida nursing homes in which Rauner had invested.
The Democratic governor brought up the nursing home debacle -- an ongoing PR headache for Rauner's campaign, not to mention a potential voter deal-breaker -- while addressing the Illinois Manufacturers' Association in Springfield on Wednesday.
"Rauner can’t walk away from being at the helm of the elaborate plan to avoid culpability," he argued in a statement. "This was an elaborately orchestrated scheme to cheat the legal system, defraud families and take advantage of those who were too vulnerable to care for themselves in order to make a buck."
A Tampa-based federal bankruptcy judge recently allowed litigation to continue in the case against GTCR, the private equity firm of which the mega-rich GOP nominee was chairman. The Chicago firm got into the nursing home business in 1998 and co-founded a company, TRI, that is now the target of more than $1 billion in judgments awarded to families of former residents who died from alleged abuse at THI-operated homes. In a lawsuit filed earlier this year, lawyers argued that GTCR should also be held accountable for payments since it allegedly mishandled the finances of its nursing home network. THI entered receivership in 2009.
"The reality is, what happened in those nursing homes, it sounds like there were some very sad events," Rauner said Wednesday, according to the Chicago Tribune. "I hope if there is any wrongdoing, that it gets punished."
He added: "I'm very comfortable letting that play out in the court, the fact that the judge said they're going to let a little bit go forward. That's all fine, part of the process."
Meanwhile, Rauner resumed pummeling Quinn with accusations of corruption, cronyism and comparisions to Blago. These past few days have been especially tough on the governor as he confronts new federal and state investigations into financial wrongdoing inside his shuttered anti-violence program -- not to mention another probe of alleged patronage hiring at the Illinois Department of Transportation.
Those are major setbacks that could potentially spell doom for Quinn's campaign. But Rauner's connection to possible elder abuse is the kind of stuff that voters might not be able to overlook at the ballot box. It tugs on emotional heartstrings.