Donald Trump’s historic Nov. 8 victory has left the globalist establishment reeling – including liberal Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and his political ally, Sam Zell.
Rauner, who twice-endorsed his close pal, Mayor Rahm “Sanctuary City” Emanuel, refused to support Trump and has taken every public opportunity to attack him.
Trump’s surprising win puts Rauner in a political bind: the unpopular Mr. Rauner will be up for re-election in blue state Illinois in 2018. The last thing he wanted was a Trump victory.
Rauner has suffered top-of-the-ticket losses in his proxy war with Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan in what turned out to be a year of Republican revolution. He spent $9 million defending the Illinois comptroller’s seat and lost. Another Rauner ally, Sen. Mark Kirk was defeated by a 15-point margin. Kirk’s ugly attacks on Trump backfired big time.
Sam Zell is also one of Rauner’s biggest backers. Zell is the billionaire real estate developer who has been systematically removing President-elect Trump’s name from three of his Manhattan buildings since the election. Anti-Trump petitions were circulated at three of Zell’s buildings asking residents to join the “Dump Trump” effort.
But Zell claims the removals aren’t politically motivated – even though his firm began removing Trump’s name immediately after the election.
“Our goal was, we have no interest in having any political position on anything,” Zell said. “Once Mr. Trump made the decision that he was going to enter the political scene, we looked at it and said, ‘We just want to be neutral. We don’t want to have an opinion.”
Zell wants to be neutral? Zell’s history of opposing the Tea Party movement with his wife, Helen, puts that statement in doubt.
Zell isn’t the only one trying to cover his political tracks. Governors Mitt Romney and Nikki Haley have “come to Jesus” since Trump’s election and more ‘Never Trump’ stalwarts are scurrying about motivated by the carrot of plum appointments.
But can they be trusted? Trump loyalists say ‘no.’ Regardless of the PR spin, supporters of Donald Trump have cause for concern.
For instance, Rauner and Zell are major donors to Planned Parenthood and the ACLU’s Reproductive Rights Project. They spent millions of dollars attacking pro-life Republican candidates during the GOP primary earlier this year. In August, Gov. Rauner signed a bill forcing Christian doctors and pregnancy centers to refer abortions.
For instance, after donating $300,000 to Rendell’s campaign, Rendell doubled the state’s stake in Rauner’s firm, GTCR, to $226 million after his election. Rauner once employed Rod Blagojevich’s political fixer Stuart Levine, a convicted felon, who said under oath that he arranged for bribes for GTCR in return for state pension fund business.
Rauner’s firm has made millions of dollars managing the $39 billion Illinois Teachers Retirement System and the $13 billion State Board of Investment, which are both run by gubernatorial appointees. As a candidate, Rauner promised to put his ownership interests in fifteen GTCR entities in a blind trust to avoid conflicts of interest. He granted administrative power to an investment advisor instead.
Since he took office, Rauner’s income has more than doubled to $188 million. Last year, he reported only $57.5 million in income.
Rauner also peppered his gubernatorial transition team with Democrats like Bill Daley, former Chief of Staff to President Obama and son of Mayor Richard J. Daley. Daley incidentally once did a half billion-dollar deal with Rauner for the sale of SBC Communications. The deal was brokered by then investment banker Rahm Emanuel who made millions of dollars off the deal after he secured an FCC exemption from the Clinton White House.
Yes, the swamp needs to be drained — and quick.
This is why politicians like Rauner and everyone else in the disconnected establishment misread the 2016 political tea leaves.
Instead of the paltry one seat win they were expecting, the Rauner-led Illinois GOP gained four seats in the state house and two in the state senate riding on Trump’s populist coattails.
But this wasn’t a victory for the politics of the Rauners or Zells of the world — no matter how many Trump signs Zell takes off his buildings.