CHICAGO, November 8, 2013 — Did Bruce Rauner, a GOP candidate for governor in Illinois, leak a private memo on a proposed plan to make the Rev. Jeremiah Wright an issue in the 2012 presidential elections? And did Rauner leak this plan — which was being pitched to conservative billionaire Joe Ricketts — to his friend Mayor Rahm Emanuel?
A new book, “Double Down: Game Change 2012” by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, has raised the question about Rauner’s role in the controversy.
Rauner campaign spokesperson, Mike Schrimpf, was contacted for reaction to the allegation and he has thus far refused to comment.
No one really knows who leaked the Wright memo to the Obama campaign back in May of 2012.
Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s close personal friend and spiritual advisor of 20 years, has been a continued source of concern and embarrassment for the president with his racist and hate-laden anti-American rants.
“The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing ‘God Bless America’? No. No. No. Not ‘God Bless America,’ ‘God damn America.’ God damn America for killing innocent people,” ranted Wright in April of 2003.
Concerning the attacks of 9/11, Wright said, “America’s chickens are coming home to roost.”
According to “Double Down,” GOP consultant Fred Davis was working to resurrect the Wright controversy for the fall 2012 elections and had just pitched the ad campaign at a meeting at Todd Ricketts’ home in Wilmette with Brian Baker, president of Ending Spending SuperPAC. Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts, an opponent of President Obama, founded the Ending Spending Super PAC.
According to the book, after the meeting with Ricketts, Baker, who opposed the Wright plan, drove Davis to a lunch meeting with Bruce Rauner, who was considering his run for Illinois governor in 2014. Baker told Davis in the car ride to Rauner that “he was nervous about what the Romney camp would think of a Wright-centric super-Pac effort.”
Some close to Joe Ricketts have speculated that Bruce Rauner’s close personal ties to Rahm Emanuel may have been the source of the leak.
According to Democrat strategist Pete Giangreco, Rauner may not have been the culprit.
Instead, he fingers a “mysterious brunette” who dropped off a copy of the “Wright proposal” to his Evanston office on May 10, 2012. Still, Giangreco claims he does not know the identity of the woman.
Giangreco says he immediately turned over the GOP consultant’s document to Obama campaign manager Jim Messina. Days later, the New York Times scooped the incendiary story on its front page.
The disclosure erupted against Joe Ricketts nationally and in Chicago, where the Ricketts family was in the middle of city negotiations to secure funding to renovate Wrigley Field. For weeks, a vindictive Rahm Emanuel refused to take calls from Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts.
All of this raises serious questions for GOP voters in 2014: Can Rauner, who has been raising millions of dollars from out-of-state donors, be trusted? Is he just a spy for Rahm in the GOP? Is Giangreco telling the truth or is he protecting Emanuel’s ally?
Rauner’s personal relationship with Mayor Rahm Emanuel — they even vacation together — and other Democrats has already become a problem for Rauner in his campaign to clinch the GOP nomination in Illinois.
A Capitol Fax/We Ask America poll found that 83 percent of Illinois Republicans said they would be less likely to support a candidate who was a friend and political ally to Chicago Democrat Rahm Emanuel.
Back in 2001, Rahm used his influence with the Clinton Administration to make an FCC exception for Rauner’s firm GTCR and SBC. In the end, SBC financed all but $100 million of GTCR’s $479 million purchase of the SecurityLink. After less than six months, Rauner’s firm sold SecurityLink for $1 billion and made a quick $500 million in profit.
Rauner claims the anti-union mantel now, but he has been a major donor to the Democratic party for decades and his firm, GTCR, has made millions in managing public sector union pension fees in Illinois and other states.
Rauner is spending millions on TV and internet ads to undo the damage to his credibility as a Republican but will it be enough?
Republican voters will answer that question in next year’s primary race.
William J. Kelly is an Emmy award-winning TV producer and conservative columnist. He is also a contributor to the American Spectator and Breitbart.com. He is a native from
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