Gov. Bruce Rauner refused to acknowledge a letter from all 50 Chicago aldermen urging him to sign gun licensing legislation into law on Wednesday - though Mayor Rahm Emanuel was seen publicly handing him the letter just a short time before.
The interaction between the two took place ahead of a news conference announcing the opening a new AT&T call center on Chicago's Near North Side Wednesday morning.
Moments before the event began, Emanuel can be seen inching closer to Rauner to hand him a blue folder. After taking the folder, Rauner opened it and looked inside for a moment before handing it to someone else, presumably a member of his staff.
Speaking after the event, Rauner then evaded questions about the hand-off and whether or not he would sign Senate Bill 1657, which would require anyone selling firearms to be professionally licensed.
"I have been crystal clear," Rauner said, when asked about his position on the bill. "I support bipartisan reforms to keep our citizens safer and we need to do this on a comprehensive basis. Real reform that will really change the system."
"Keep our students safer in our schools, ban bump stocks, support law enforcement and do a better job of keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill," he continued.
When asked about the letter, which a spokesman for Emanuel said was initially sent to Rauner's office on Friday, Rauner said "the mayor did not leave anything at the podium."
"But I look forward to talking with the mayor," Rauner added.
When a reporter referenced the blue folder held by one of the governor's staffers on the other side of the room, Rauner shrugged and said, "I don’t know, why don’t you check?"
Rauner's office later confirmed that his staff had, in fact, received the letter but declined to give further insight into where the governor - facing a tough reelection battle - stands.
"Numerous pieces of legislation have been introduced in the General Assembly, but only two have been forwarded to the Governor for review. That speaks to the complexity of this issue," spokeswoman Rachel Bold said in a statement.
"We continue to believe bipartisan collaboration is our best hope to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill, ban bump stocks, keep our children safe in their schools and support our law enforcement officers," her statement ended.
Emanuel attributed Rauner's unwillingness to say whether he would sign the legislation to the upcoming election on March 20.
“It says he may obviously not want to make this decision before his primary,” Emanuel said ahead of the AT&T event, adding, "but he has the responsibility to make this decision on behalf of all of us, for the safety and security of the people of the Chicago and the state of Illinois."