McKinney, Clout & The Freedom Of The Press: Where Would Illinois Be Headed Under Rauner's Reign?

Former Chicago Sun-Times Springfield Bureau Chief Dave McKinney’s resignation from the paper is fueling players in both the political and media worlds to speculate about not only the future of the Windy City’s oldest news publication, but also what it means for journalism in the state in a greater sense — and what a Rauner-ruled Illinois could look like.

After 19 years at the newspaper, McKinney issued his immediate resignation Wednesday, stating in an open letter that, essentially, he had no choice but to make the “difficult decision due to the disturbing developments I’ve experienced in the last two weeks that cannot be reconciled with this newspaper’s storied commitment to journalism.”

The “disturbing developments” stem from the newspaper’s response to the “multiple tactics” GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner’s campaign deployed in an attempt to stop the publication of a story co-written by McKinney, Carol Marin and Don Moseley. The article detailed allegations that Rauner threatened a former employee, ex-LeapSource CEO Christine Kirk, as well as her family when it became clear that she planned to sue Rauner and his then-investment firm GTCR. Despite threats from the Republican’s campaign stating they would “go over” the heads of those working on the story, according to McKinney, the piece ran.

And that’s when the Rauner camp reportedly pounced even more viciously, penning an “opposition-research hit piece–rife with errors–about” McKinney’s wife Ann Liston, a Democratic consultant. Although Sun-Times Publisher and Editor Jim Kirk responded to the Rauner camp’s allegations of a conflict of interest, saying the “’assault’ on my integrity ’border[ed] on defamation’ and represented ’a low point in the campaign,’” according to the political reporter, actions were allegedly taken days later to silence and demote him.

Enter Sun-Times Chairman Michael Ferro.

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Report Examines Big-Money Influence In IL Guv's Race, Congressional Primaries

With just under two weeks until election day, a new analysis of campaign finance data is highlighting the "outsized influence of big money" in Illinois races.

For its report on campaign finance, the public interest group Illinois PIRG Education Fund looked at the Illinois congressional primaries as well as the last fundraising quarter in the state's tightly-fought gubernatorial race between Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and GOP challenger Bruce Rauner.

"In both, we found that donors with bigger wallets have a bigger voice in our campaigns," Abe Scarr, director of the Illinois PIRG Education Fund, said at a Tuesday press conference at Daley Plaza.

"It's becoming increasingly and blindingly clear that small-donor voices are being drowned out by a small cadre of big donors," he added. "Recent decisions by the Supreme Court have allowed a flood of big money into our elections, most notably in the Citizens United decision.

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Republicans Crow As Questions Swirl Surrounding Sun-Times' Rauner Endorsement

The Illinois Republican Party and Rauner campaign sent out manic messages to the media and supporters this weekend crowing about the Chicago Sun-Times' endorsement of the Republican gubernatorial candidate as questions swirl about the motivation behind the decision. 

After sitting out of the endorsement game for the last three years, the newspaper switched gears and enthusiastically endorsed Bruce Rauner for governor, announcing their sole endorsement in the upcoming election. The endorsement states that the catalyst behind the about face is due to the race being "simply too important to the future of Illinois for us to stay silent."

"It may well be the most important election in our state’s modern history," reads the endorsement, which was posted online Saturday and published in the Sunday paper.

And although that may very well be true, there is much speculation that the endorsement had little to do with the high stakes of the race and much more to do with Rauner's relationship with the media company and Michael Ferro Jr., chairman of Wrapports LLC, the parent company of Sun-Times Media. Rauner previously owned 10 percent of Wrapports, selling his share to Ferro for $5 million shortly before announcing his gubernatorial run. 

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Report: Sexual Harassment Widespread In The Restaurant Industry

Many restaurant employees face frequent sexual harassment on the job from managers, co-workers and customers. 

That's according to a recent survey and report by Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United) and Forward Together, which found that 66 percent of female and more than half of male restaurant employees experienced sexual harassment at some point from a work superior.

The survey of 688 current and former restaurant workers in 39 states also showed that 80 percent of women and 70 percent of men faced sexual harassment at the hands of co-workers. Sexual teasing, inappropriate touching and sexually suggestive gestures are some of the harassment examples cited by workers, who were surveyed May through August of this year.

Among other troubling findings, nearly 80 percent of women and 55 percent of men reported being harassed by restaurant customers while at work.

"Our report finds that sexual harassment is absolutely systemic across the restaurant industry and is experienced by a majority of workers, but the heaviest impact is borne by women, trans people, tipped workers and workers in states that allow employers to pay tipped workers as little as $2.13 an hour," said Eveline Shen, executive director of Forward Together, a social advocacy organization.
 
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Durbin Discusses Election, Legislative Priorities With College Students (VIDEO)

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), who is in the midst of a re-election campaign, met with college students in Chicago Tuesday morning to discuss his legislative priorities and a range of issues, including student loan debt.

“You ought to be teaching us,” Durbin said to the group of approximately 50. “What does it mean to go viral? How to you get a message out on the Internet—Facebook or something else—that says ‘on the Saturday before this election, we want every member of Congress to declare whether they’re going to vote to renegotiate student loans.’”

The University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics held the discussion with Durbin, the U.S. Senate's second-ranking Democrat. Republican businessman State Sen. Jim Oberweis (R-Sugar Grove) is attempting to unseat Durbin in the upcoming November midterm election.

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