Governorship Presents Conflict of Interest For Bruce Rauner, Pension System

 

Illinois’ GOP candidate for governor, Bruce Rauner, touts in a recent ad (above) that his investment firm, GTCR, made millions for the state by helping the Teacher’s Retirement System (TRS) invest its pension assets in private equity investments.

The investments apparently returned 17 percent – but returns aren’t the issue.

There may be a serious conflict of interest if Rauner is eventually elected governor. That’s because the governor appoints six trustees to the TRS Board—and GTCR still manages investments for the fund.

That wouldn’t be a big problem, except Rauner is still a partner at a GTCR subsidiary.

David Sirota explains:

Despite assertions that Rauner has retired from GTCR, SEC documents confirm that Rauner remains a partner in a GTCR subsidiary. There are other ownership stakes in GTCR funds listed in Rauner’s campaign finance disclosure forms. And according to state documents, GTCR currently manages Illinois pension funds, meaning that if elected, Rauner would appoint the board of a pension system that employs — and pays fees to — his firm.

If Rauner became governor, he would elect nearly half of the board of trustees of the Teacher’s Retirement System. From the TRS website:

TRS is governed by a 13-member Board of Trustees. Trustees include the state superintendent of education, six trustees appointed by the governor, four trustees elected by contributing TRS members, and two trustees elected by TRS annuitants. Two appointed positions are vacant.

As David Sirota writes, there are other issues surrounding Rauner’s tenure at GTCR, as well:

Rauner’s campaign ad comes as his investments hold center stage in a federal civil trial. Chicago’s NBC affiliate says that the suit involves allegations “that GTCR, the Chicago-based firm where Rauner served as managing partner for decades before retiring in 2012, may have masterminded an operation to allegedly avoid responsibility for the deaths of elderly patients residing in nursing homes it had invested in.”  The Chicago Tribune says that GTCR is being “accused by attorneys for the estates of several former nursing home patients of engineering a complicated 2006 sale to avoid wrongful death judgments.”

GTCR denies the allegations.

Rauner promotes a pension plan that would freeze the pensions of current workers and shift all workers into a 401(k)-type plan.

 

Photo by By Steven Vance via Wikimedia Commons

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