(CBS) — Republican gubernatorial nominee Bruce Rauner is blasting his GOP opponents amid the latest claim against his campaign: that he used clout to get his daughter admitted to an elite public high school.
Rauner is considered the front-runner to square off against likely Democratic nominee Pat Quinn, despite a Sun-Times story the wealthy businessman cut a $250,000 check to Walter Payton Prep after his daughter was admitted with the help of school officials.
State Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale, accuses Rauner of “pay to play” and points to other politically connected moves the venture capitalist made — like hiring Rahm Emanuel to work with his private equity firm and donating to Democratic politicians.
“If Mr. Rauner is the Republican nominee, there will continue to be a drip, drip, drip of stories about how he uses his incredible wealth to not only make money but to get his way,” Dillard, one of four GOP nominees for governor, says.
Rauner admits making a call to former Chicago Public Schools CEO Arne Duncan to see how he could get his daughter into Payton, despite what he calls a middle school attendance record marred by illness. He says principals have some discretion in admitting a small percentage of students, and parents have a right to make an appeal like he did.
“There’s nothing to apologize for that, there’s nothing wrong with it, and I would do it again and again,” he tells CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine in a one-on-one interview.
Rauner said he gave money to Walter Payton Prep more than a year after his daughter was admitted there. He said he and he wife have donated millions to schools.
Despite being attacked by Dillard and two other Republican hopefuls, Bill Brady and Dan Rutherford, he rarely mentions them, as if he’s already won the primary and is now focused solely on Quinn. Rauner disagrees with the perception by some that it is an arrogant approach.
“I’m running against three gentlemen – they’re nice guys – they’re part of the problem, they’ve been in Springfield for decades, not delivering results. They’re all in the broken pensions, they all take government union-boss money, and that’s why I’m running,” Rauner says.