Responding to criticism of his newly revealed promises to shut down state government and engage in mass firings of public workers, Illinois Republican gubernatorial nominee Bruce Rauner's campaign has issued a statement reneging on the pledge. CNN reports that after IBTimes reported on video clips of Rauner's speeches making the promises, Rauner's 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 originally reported by IBTimes, Rauner is seen telling Republican audiences that if elected in November, he will engineer a government shutdown. In one speech, 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 GOP audience, he promised to "shut things down for a little while" and also "do what Ronald Reagan did with the air traffic controllers."
The latter was a reference to President Reagan's 1981 firing of 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, running against Democratic incumbent Pat Quinn, is a private equity executive who made billions managing public workers' pension money. Yesterday, the challenger donated $1.5 million of his own money to his gubernatorial campaign. That follows his having received the largest campaign contribution in Illinois history -- a $2.5 million donation from hedge fund billionaire Kenneth Griffin.