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Hearing Set To Decide If Rauner Campaign Violated Rules

Bruce Rauner
Brian Mackey
NPR Illinois

*Update - according to the Illinois State Board of Elections, the hearing originally scheduled for May 7, has been delayed until the morning of June 10.

The State Board of Elections will hold a hearing to determine whether Governor Bruce Rauner's campaign violated state elections law.

Bruce Rauner's campaign spent at least $65 million to win the governor's office. Now, state election authorities are looking into whether he missed a deadline to report some of that success.

Illinois law requires sizeable campaign contributions (namely, those worth $1,ooo or more) get reported to the state elections board. And if it's just before an election, it has to happen right away.

"Our records had shown that a report was received late," state board of elections director Steve Sandvoss says of the Citizens for Rauner fund. He declined to give details, saying "in light of fairness to the respondent and due fairness principles, we don't comment publicly on the nature of an ongoing proceeding. But rather, we'll let the process bear itself out."

But Sandvoss cautions that "what appears on its face does not always mean what ultimately happened."

In this case, a Rauner spokesman calls it a "snafu." He says a firm hired to update filings prepared a report that was due Oct. 30 -- days before the election - but mistakenly failed to upload it. He says watchdogs were only in the dark eight hours; the mistake was corrected and report was in by 8 a.m. the following day.

Records from 7:59 a.m. on Oct. 31 show Rauner had given himself nearly $1.5 million dollars, that he'd banked $50,000 from the Republican Governor's Association, and $10,000 from the owner of Portillo's restaurants, on top of other donations ranging from $1,000 to $25,000.

A preliminary hearing on the matter is currently scheduled for Thursday in Chicago. A state hearing officer will make a recommendation, but it's board of elections members -- some of whom Rauner recently appointed -- will have the final say on whether or not the governor's campaign was in the wrong.

The governor's sure to have no trouble paying any potential fine; his Citizens for Rauner fund is sitting on $20 million.

Amanda Vinicky moved to Chicago Tonight on WTTW-TV PBS in 2017.
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