Opinion: It's Time for Rauner to Own Up to GTCR Management Flubs

The Illinois governor candidate shirks responsibility for ConvergEx and other corporate failures

Bruce Rauner needs to take some responsibility for the ConvergEx debacle and other failures of corporate management, says Crain's Chicago Business' Greg Hinz in one of his best -- and most toughly worded -- columns on the veteran venture capitalist-turned-gubernatorial candidate.

Hinz cites past media interviews Rauner gave as chairman of GTCR, the private equity firm he founded three decades ago, in which he talks about his eye for talent and hiring. Hinz makes the case that the aspiring Illinois governor can't boast about his prowess for recruiting talent to lead GTCR-associated companies and then shrug when those companies implode.

"We're in two businesses: industry research and executive recruiting," Rauner told Chicago Magazine in 2011.  "We study industries, and we network like crazy to find the superstars."

Says Hinz, "when you brag about your expertise in selecting corporate talent, and then that talent messes up, it says something about judgment, doesn't it? Or it maybe suggests that all that braggadocio about carefully vetting the right executive team was a bit overblown. Anyhow, Mr. Rauner can't have it both ways."

"If it's fair to blame Mr. Quinn for the state's bad economy, tax structure and sundry scandals — he was in charge — then it's fair to ask about Mr. Rauner's management skills when top talent vetted by the old master flames out," he adds.

ConvergEx is the latest in a string of GTCR-related flame-outs to make headlines as the Republican gains momentum in his increasingly bitter campaign to unseat Gov. Pat Quinn in November's election. Two former executives who worked in the trading subsidiary of the brokerage -- which was formed by GTCR -- were indicted last week on charges of defrauding investors by charging a fake fee on transactions.

Rauner denied having anything to do with ConvergEx's travails, saying: "Behavior inside large organizations unfortunately is not always perfect. And nobody can control every element and every behavior." 

"Sorry, that just doesn't wash," writes Hinz. "If you run a big company, the buck stops on your desk. Just like it stops on the desk of Gov. Pat Quinn when a patronage hiring scandal erupts in the Illinois Department of Transportation, or prosecutors start asking questions about a grand anti-violence program that more and more looks like a political slush fund."

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