In response to widespread criticism of Illinois Republican gubernatorial nominee Bruce Rauner's newly revealed promises to shut down state government and engage in mass firings of public workers, his campaign has issued a statement reneging on the pledge. After IBTimes reported on video clips of Rauner's speeches making the vow, CNN reports that his campaign now says their candidate "has put forth a detailed plan for reviving Illinois, and shutting down state government is not among those plans."
In the clips, Rauner is seen telling Republican audiences that if elected in 2014, he will engineer a government shutdown. In one speech to a friendly audience, Rauner said: "I may have to take a strike and shut down the government for a few weeks and kinda redo everybody's contract. That's a possibility. ... I will do it proudly." In a separate speech to another Republican audience, he promises to "shut things down for a little while" and also "do what Ronald Reagan did with the air traffic controllers."
That was a reference to Reagan in 1981 firing more than 11,000 air traffic controllers who went on strike for better pay and working conditions. Reagan made the decision to fire the workers only a year after sending a letter to the head of their union acknowledging "too few people working unreasonable hours with obsolete equipment" and pledging that his "administration will work very closely with you to bring about a spirit of cooperation between the president and the air traffic controllers."
Rauner is a private equity executive who made billions managing public workers' pension money. On Monday, he donated $1.5 million of his own money to his gubernatorial campaign. That follows Rauner receiving the largest campaign contribution in Illinois history -- a $2.5 million donation from hedge fund billionaire Kenneth Griffin.