A company once partially owned by Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner's investment firm started making campaign contributions to Illinois Democrats after it won a multimillion-dollar Cook County contract, according to a report published Wednesday in Crain's Chicago Business.
Crain's reported that the Cook County Board approved a deal with HealthRev Inc. in 2000 to collect on overdue Medicaid bills, giving the company a portion of what it could collect. County records show HealthRev was paid $8.8 million over roughly three years. The company made an additional $1.9 million after the contract's renewal.
State records show HealthRev was owned until 2004 by GTCR LLC, which Rauner helped found and where he was chairman until 2012. Rauner -- who's trying to unseat Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn -- also served on HealthRev's board.
Crain's cites state records showing that just after the deal was approved, the company made a series of contributions worth $8,000 to then-Cook County President John Stroger's campaign and a ward organization account supporting his son, Todd Stroger, an alderman who later replaced his father as president.
The company also gave $5,000 to House Speaker Michael Madigan, a Chicago Democrat.
Rauner spokesman Mike Schrimpf said the venture capitalist knew nothing about the contributions and added that Rauner was "one of Stroger's biggest adversaries."
At the time, county political hiring was plagued by nepotism.
Schrimpf said Rauner personally donated money to Cook County Board member Forrest Claypool, who became a political opponent of Stroger. Claypool lost the 2006 primary to Stroger, who suffered a stroke before the election. Stroger later resigned and Democratic officials placed Stroger's son on the general election ballot. Todd Stroger won the election.
Madigan spokesman Steve Brown said he didn't know anything about the donation to Madigan.
Quinn's campaign called the scenario "pay-to-play" politics, which Rauner's campaign called a distraction.