Politifact: Rauner's "blind trust procedures" don't excuse lawsuit secrecy

Matt Dietrich
Oct 27, 2017
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lawsuit filed Oct. 5 against Gov. Bruce Rauner by a former business associate has piqued the interest of those who follow Illinois politics.

But the substance of the suit remains unknown because, in a highly unusual move, the complaint and three exhibits in the case filed in Cook County Circuit Court are sealed. The plaintiff’s attorney says he wants the records made public and says they’re under wraps at Rauner’s request.

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The reporting aspect of Rauner’s setup is a key distinction between it and a blind trust. Because Illinois requires that he submit an annual summary of his economic interests, Rauner can’t legally blind himself to knowledge of his investments as would be required in a blind trust.

"If you still have to report it, it does defeat the purpose of a blind trust," said Larry Noble, senior director and general counsel of The Campaign Legal Center, a Washington, D.C., campaign ethics watchdog group.

Noble believes voters would be better served if Illinois law didn’t favor mandatory disclosure over true blind trusts.

"If you know what assets are in there, even though you’re not calling the shots you still have a conflict," Noble said.

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That could be significant in relation to the current court case, Noble said, because it gives Rauner a convenient way to quickly dispel any controversy that develops over the alleged secrecy.

"He could say, ‘In the interest of disclosure I authorize my trustee to make it public,’ " Noble said.

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