The Illinois Race for Governor: Nursing Home Deaths and Lawsuit Settlements

Four years ago Illinois Democrats chose the wrong candidate in their U.S. Senate primary. Alexi Giannoulias was seen as a young rising star, but unfortunately for him, his family-owned bank purportedly had done business with members of the mafia. Many of my Republican friends constantly referred to him as “the mob banker.” The Republican candidate was very weak but managed to win chiefly because of the “mob banker” issue.

Whenever a Democratic Party candidate is tainted in any way by shady or questionable business dealings, Republicans understandably pounce. For example, three times in the past decade a statewide candidate in Kentucky was brought down due to scandals involving deaths at nursing homes — you can read all about its striking similarity to Illinois this year right here.

Let me set up a quick scenario for you. Let’s say the Illinois Democratic Party nominated someone for governor this time whose history in the private sector included many lawsuits against his business, many of which were settled potentially costing the company billions of dollars. Also, as in Kentucky, the Democrat here was hip deep in lawsuits brought by family members whose loved ones died or were injured in nursing homes due to gross negligence.

Would Illinois Republicans be silent or would they make an issue out of it? We all know the answer to that.

Last January, two months before the primary election, Doug Ibendahl at Chicago-based Republican News Watch broke the story of the many past and current lawsuits involving GTCR, Republican candidate Bruce Rauner’s company. I’ve linked most of the articles below so you can get up to speed.

The reaction from within the Illinois Republican multitudes was mostly silence. A few brave voices spoke up, but most preferred to preserve their membership in the willfully ignorant club.

This ongoing and massive GTCR scandal is starting to get some serious press coverage in Illinois due to one of the lawsuits going to trial this week. It would surprise no one if we were to see political ads on TV highlighting some of the many tragic deaths.

During our last gubernatorial campaign the Republican nominee Bill Brady was hit in the final weeks with ads decrying legislation which he supported that permitted the mass euthanasia of dogs. Many people believe those ads were instrumental in that candidate’s defeat. Brady was up in the polls, then the mass dog killing ads ran, then Democrat Pat Quinn won reelection.

In 2010 it was dogs. In 2014 it involves frail and vulnerable senior citizens. If the dogs took down Bill Brady, I suspect the chances for a Rauner victory are not long for this world.

Here is Margaret Niederer, a retired “regional long-term care ombudsman,” writing in the State Journal-Register:

Rauner says he will come to Springfield and run it like a business. If the morally bankrupt and slipshod manner in which he ran his health-care companies is any indication of how he will run government agencies, including the Illinois Department of Public Health, which is responsible for oversight of long-term care facilities, then this is indeed, a very scary situation.

Here are three interesting points made in the comments section at a Springfield, Illinois blog:

Rauner can’t run on his business record while also running away from said record.

* * *

Actually, Rauner would rather run against Quinn’s political record than *on* his own business record.

* * *

Aren’t most business folks eager to tout and show off their business accomplishments? Rauner doesn’t do this. He’ll take the cash — he’s fine with that. But he doesn’t really offer up any kind of “business” perspective or business case … for much of anything.

If Rauner does lose in November, some Republicans will want to blame Republican News Watch and the rest of the Illinois press. The truth is they’ll have no one to blame but themselves for ignoring the GTRC scandal and nominating the wrong guy.

How can Pat Quinn, a failed governor by most standards, win reelection?

Here’s Scott McKay writing on Monday in the American Spectator:

The Republican Party…lacks credibility and trust with voters and activists — both of which it must have.

Well duh, Illinois Republican voters, duh.

Here are the links to the Republican News Watch articles. Read ’em and weep.

Trial starts today in “legal thriller” case against Rauner’s GTCR
September 22, 2014 — The long-awaited trial involving Bruce Rauner’s private equity firm’s alleged “bust-out” of its nursing home company is set to begin today.

Rauner-linked nursing home “bust out” case goes to trial this month
September 3, 2014 — In a few short weeks, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida will be center stage for what is likely to provide an unprecedented look at how GTCR under Bruce Rauner treated nursing home victims.

Right, yeah, a buffer. Rauner had a lot of buffers.
August 13, 2014 — Bruce Rauner assures us he’s “five layers away” from the two high level ConvergEx executives indicted last week. Where have we heard that excuse before?

Internal memo exposes holes in Rauner’s nursing home narrative
July 21, 2014 — Bruce Rauner’s repeated suggestion that GTCR was just an “investor” in Trans Health is nothing short of a blatant lie, and the memorandum from GTCR’s own Management Leader is simply further proof.

New revelations cast more doubt on Rauner’s fitness for office
July 13, 2014 — Just like with the elderly in the nursing homes, when it came to the developmentally disabled, Bruce Rauner’s business philosophy was apparently “churn and burn.”

Bruce Rauner’s GTCR settled racketeering lawsuit in 2006
May 22, 2014 — Was there corruption within the walls of GTCR during Bruce Rauner’s reign that would shame even the worst assumptions about Springfield government? It’s officially become a fair question to ask.

Proof Bruce Rauner was hands-on in nursing home business
May 21, 2014 — Bruce Rauner was GTCR’s point-man in a management/labor dispute between the Service Employees International Union and Trans Healthcare.

Alleged Medicare fraud scheme spells more trouble for Rauner
May 19, 2014 — When greed is linked to alleged criminal abuse of our government’s Medicare and Medicaid programs, it’s time for folks to start paying attention.

Fed. Ct.: Rauner’s GTCR orchestrated “bust out” scheme; lawsuit has merit
May 6, 2014 — The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Middle District of Florida has issued a ruling which contains some very bad news for GOP gubernatorial nominee Bruce Rauner.

Here’s what the FBI had to say about a Rauner-linked company
March 14, 2014 — A company linked to Bruce Rauner, APS Healthcare, took Medicaid’s money for itself and left some of our most vulnerable citizens without the aid they deserved.

Yet Another Federal Lawsuit Reveals Rauner-Related Buyer’s Remorse
March 14, 2014 — We have a strong suspicion that a lot of Republican voters are going to have some severe buyer’s remorse of their own soon after Tuesday’s Primary Election.

Rauner lies about links to nursing home scandal
March 10, 2014 — We don’t use the term “lies” in this article’s title lightly. But Mr. Rauner gives us no choice.

Playing the ‘Goodfellas’ card Mr. Rauner? Really?
March 2, 2014 — It’s interesting that Mr. Rauner would choose to go down the ‘Goodfellas” road because I’m certain I’m not the only one who immediately thought of a certain scene in that movie when the nursing home scandal came to light.

New Fed. Court filing packs explosive allegations about Rauner’s GTCR
February 22, 2014 — Republicans – and no resident of Illinois for that matter – can afford to wait for GTCR’s lawyers to weigh in on these extremely serious matters.

Rauner’s GTCR hired habitual sexual harasser to head media venture
February 12, 2014 — The Chicago Tribune is a leading titillator when it comes to Dan Rutherford. But thus far the pro-Rauner Tribune has ignored another sexual harassment story which not only links their buddy Bruce – but also their own newspaper.

GTCR’s former nursing home point man a top Rauner donor
January 28, 2014 — Rauner still refuses to explain with any specificity his role and that of his former firm in the nursing home industry.

More on Rauner’s nursing home scandal: The Story of Juanita Jackson
January 23, 2014 — Yet another nursing home victim of the GTCR-linked THI was Juanita Jackson.

Rauner’s GTCR linked to nursing home deaths and abuse
January 22, 2014 — GTCR’s foray into the nursing home business might have been good for the bank accounts of Bruce Rauner and his friends. But according to court documents, some elderly residents of those nursing homes paid the ultimate price.

Bruce Rauner and Death of a Salesman’s Campaign
January 21, 2014 — The fatal problem for Rauner’s gubernatorial ambitions is the irreconcilable disconnect between the way he made his money and the main theme of his campaign.

Image credit: