The worst thing to happen to Bruce Rauner's campaign is a gift to the re-election efforts of Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn.
The Democratic governor, on shaky turf amid a federal and state investigation into his scandal-plagued anti-violence program, was basically handed a political lifeline -- we'll see how temporary -- when his Republican rival released tax returns that revealed the Winnetka venture capitalist used a fee waiver loophole to avoid paying the federal rate for the nation's wealthiest citizens.
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.
While Rauner's campaign accused Quinn of pulling a "stunt," Quinn said he thinks the stunt is Rauner "not paying into Medicare or Social Security."
According to the Sun-Times, a Chicago teacher brought her pay stub to the presser, proclaiming: "If you were to look at my pay stub ... you would see that I pay Social Security and Medicare, however, it is somewhat mind-boggling that Bruce Rauner has managed to avoid payment to either of these programs."
Oh boy. Good luck getting out of this one, Bruce. (Sidenote: If you're thinking of running for public office someday, you might want to prematurely avert the kind of tax-related dodginess that gives your opponent ammo for a public take-down covered by practically every local media outlet.)
As outrage over income inequality sweeps the globe, buoyed by the runaway success of Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century, the vast fortune Rauner amassed over more than 30 years at GTCR's helm can and will be used against him in the court of public opinion while Quinn gleefully fuels the fire with his "loophole governor" rants.
That's gonna be a huge hurdle to climb.