Chicago, Illinois, October 2, 2012 – An article in Monday’s Chicago Tribune reaffirmed a well-known political reality: the Illinois Republican Party is for sale. The new buyers? Top contributors and advisers to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. In fact, Rahm’s donors have paid the down payment and the mortgage has already been drawn up.
But this is no ordinary mortgage: this is a political mortgage for the soul of a party and a movement.
Isn’t that just what the doctor ordered in Illinois – a state party controlled by President Obama’s former White House Chief of Staff and his wealthy donors? Illinois conservative and tea party leaders must be thrilled.
This summer, Emanuel earned a not-so-special place in the hearts of pro-family voters after he tried to block the Chick-Fil-A restaurant chain’s city expansion after CEO Dan Cathy made statements in support of traditional marriage.
So what is behind this latest move to control the Illinois Republican Party and so-called conservative organizations?
In his report, Tribune reporter Rick Pearson describes how cheap Illinois Republican Party assets are being snapped up by “Republican” hedge fund managers.
But who are these “Republican” hedge fund managers really?
Her husband, Ken Griffin bundled more than $221,000 for Barack Obama after a visit to Griffin’s Chicago-based headquarters. Both contributed $200,000 to Rahm Emanuel’s mayoral campaign in 2010.
In early 2011, the Griffins began funneling tens of thousands of dollars to downstate organizations in Illinois, which then, in turn, gave the money to the Illinois Republican Party. The funds were unreported until conservative bloggers and members of the Illinois media began asking questions.
Chump change for wielding influence and power.
A search of the Illinois State Board of Election website reveals the Soros-linked Griffins also have been seeding political groups linked to the “right-leaning” Illinois Policy Institute, including the Illinois Opportunity Project and Liberty PAC, controlled by Dan Proft. Proft has deeply troubling money ties to Cicero’s Larry Dominick and Craig and Jeff Pesek, who control the Morton Grove school district.
The Peseks were caught on FBI surveillance tape in 2007 discussing a mob-ordered bombing of a Cicero business with their drug-dealer business partner.
Conservative values much?
Another Republican money manager who is suddenly snapping up Illinois conservative assets is hedge fund manager Bruce Rauner, who is considering a GOP run for Illinois governor. Rauner’s firm’s purchase of SecurityLink from SBC Ameritech was one of the first big deals Rahm Emanuel put together after his sudden conversion to investment banker in the 1990s. Emanuel had no previous investment experience. Rauner was placed by Emanuel on the board of World Business Chicago and currently serves as his advisor.
So what explains this flow of Democrat-linked money managers dabbling in Republican politics?
The answer is one that has plagued Illinois politics for decades: The Combine.
Former U.S. Senator Peter Fitzgerald coined the term more than a decade ago to describe that “Illinois political class that’s not committed to any party, that simply want to make money off the taxpayers.” In the 1990s, Fitzgerald fought the Combine and the Combine drove him out of Illinois. (Fitzgerald had his revenge: He was successful in getting Patrick Fitzgerald (no relation) appointed U.S. Attorney).
But now this next generation of “Combine” leaders is a bigger threat than ever before.
Will Illinois Republican and conservative leaders stand-up and cry foul? Will contributors finally be held to account for attempted influence-peddling in both political parties?
In other words, do values and principles still matter?
Illinois Republican and conservative voters will have a choice in November and beyond: What kind of Republican Party do you want?
The future of the Republican Party in Illinois just might depend on the answer.