Cayman Islands banking ‘common’, Rauner says

It’s no secret that Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn has made his opponent’s substantial wealth the main theme of his campaign.

From Bruce Rauner not releasing his complete tax records to his businesses sheltering money in the Cayman Islands, Quinn will continue harping on the $53 million man’s Montana-size wallet until the last vote is counted Nov. 4.

For his part, Rauner has tried to combat the obvious class warfare going on here. During the colder months, he wore a Carhartt jacket to emphasize an everyman approach to his campaign.

He drives a Harley, wears a cheap watch and says he likes to drink a beer and burn a steak when he’s hanging out at one of his ranches out West.

Last week, however, in the fallout of another report on his bank accounts in the Caymans, Rauner showed why he may have trouble connecting with voters of, let’s say, lesser financial means.

In trying to explain why it makes sense to put money in the offshore tax haven, Rauner said it’s not sinister or evil, and it makes financial sense.

“It’s common practice,” he told reporters at an event in Springfield.

Remember that the next time you’re looking for somewhere to park that extra $100,000 you’ve got in your pocket.

DILLARD MONEY: Before leaving his job as a state senator, the runner-up in the Republican race for governor had to tap his running mate to help pay off a $50,000 loan from his old boss.

According to state election records, former state Sen. Kirk Dillard, a Hinsdale Republican, collected $50,000 from his lieutenant governor pick on Aug. 15.

He then turned around and wrote a $50,000 check to repay former Gov. Jim Edgar for a campaign loan given during the March primary campaign.

Repayment of the loan came just a day after Edgar, who had been backing Dillard in the four-way GOP race, told Republicans at the Illinois State Fair that he was now supporting Rauner.

State Rep. Jil Tracy, R-Quincy, who was Dillard’s No. 2 in the race, said it was an agreed upon by all sides that she would pick up the tab for repaying the loan from Edgar.

“Gov. Edgar offered to write us a loan. I offered to pay it back,” Tracy said. “That’s just how it was.”

She said the timing of the repayment had nothing to do with Edgar’s endorsement of Rauner.

Rather, she said, “This is just a loose end that needed to be wrapped up.”

What’s odd about the whole thing is that Edgar has $430,000 still left in his campaign account at a time when he doesn’t appear to be planning another run for public office.

He could have just given Dillard $50,000 out of the account and put the rest in a Cayman Islands account.

BARICKMAN TAKES OVER: The exit of Dillard from the Illinois Senate has opened up a slot for state Sen. Jason Barickman to take over as the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Barickman, a lawyer from Bloomington, announced the change Wednesday in the wake of Dillard’s departure to be chairman of the Regional Transportation Authority.

Barickman has served as the GOP point person on a separate panel investigating Quinn’s scandal-ridden Neighborhood Recovery Initiative, which Republicans have called a $55 million “political slush fund” designed to help the Democrat from Chicago beat state Sen. Bill Brady of Bloomington in 2010.

LOBBYISTS: Democrat Ann Callis, the former Madison County judge who is running for Congress against Republican U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis in Central Illinois’ 13th District, has been trying to make lobbyists an issue in her campaign.

Specifically, she’s been criticizing the freshman from Taylorville for hiring two former lobbyists to serve on his staff. Apparently, someone in Washington, D.C., has a poll showing that “lobbyist” is a dirty word among voters.

Callis campaign spokesman says a former lobbyist on the congressional payroll could be more interested in protecting their old industry buddies than constituents back home.

But it’s not like Callis has no lobbyists in her closet.

According to a review of campaign finance records, Callis has taken campaign contributions from lobbyists registered in Illinois.

Among the lobbyists who have contributed to Callis are phone company governmental affairs chief Doug Dougherty, former state Rep. Julie Curry of Mount Zion and Loretta Durbin, a registered lobbyist and wife of U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin.

 

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