Empty Chairs: Is Rauner Dodging? Or Wisely Avoiding A Witch Hunt?
Democrats are accusing Governor Bruce Rauner of "dodging" questions about how much his top staff are making. Just how much Gov. Bruce Rauner's administration is costing taxpayers was supposed to be the subject of a hearing, called by House Revenue Chairman John Bradley.
But when he asked repeatedly "is there anyone from the governor's office here to testify?" there was silence.
No one from the governor's office showed. That's a breach of legislative decorum that's virtually unheard of.
"I'm here, I'm working, I came to committee today and the governor's office didn't show up. And so I think it was Walter Cronkite that said, 'what? Ninety-percent of life is showing up,'" Bradley, D-Marion, said afterward.
Some clues for the absence are found in a letter to Bradley from one of Rauner's top aides, Rich Goldberg. He calls the hearing a "sham," and an attempt to distract from Democrats' unbalanced budget.
It also comes after previous, heated hearings on a similar topic.
Bradley says the questioning is justified given the cuts Rauner's making to state programs. He says a review by House Democrats found that the Rauner administration is spending at least one million dollars more than his predecessor, former Gov. Pat Quinn.
"If you're asking for significant sacrifices form the rest of the state you need to be tightening your own belt," Bradley said.
Rauner's office disputes says; Rauner's office maintains its payroll is down from last year. However, a list the governor's staff submitted as proof omits some of Rauner's highest-paid advisers.
It's easy, and has become typical of recent administrations, to easy to "hide" salaries. Rauner appears to have essentially "off-shored" six-figure advisers to other state agencies, making his office appear to be spending less.