SPRINGFIELD - The Sangamon County Republicans hosted IL GOP gubernatorial nominee Bruce Rauner Tuesday night and the media honed in on two particular reception attendees whose names raised eyebrows - Former IL GOP National Committeeman Bob Kjellander and convicted felon Bill Cellini. Apparently were in attendance and seated in prominent places during Rauner's visit.
Kjellander - whose notorious arrogance and business as well as political ties to Cellini cast shadows on his Republican influence - had nice things to say about Rauner, as did Cellini.
Rauner "did an outstanding job" in his speech, Kjellander told SJ-R's Bernie Schoenberg. Rauner was "very impressive," Cellini - who was released from federal prison last November- told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Kjellander and Cellini - who've been big Republican players for decades - were unnoticed and unknown to Rauner, who has had little contact until lately with Republican Party head honchos.
“I don’t know,” Rauner told the Chicago Sun-Times Dave McKinney when asked about Cellini's praise. “I didn’t even know he was here. I don’t really know him. I can’t comment on that.”
The encounter created opportunity for Governor Quinn to respond with snark.
“Clearly Billionaire Bruce Rauner is afraid to alienate the King of Clout,” Quinn for Illinois Deputy Press Secretary Izabela Miltko told Cap Fax's Rich Miller. “Mr. Rauner claims to want to root out corruption and ‘shake up Springfield,’ yet when faced with an endorsement from the King of Shakedowns, mum’s the word.
“Instead of saying no to the King of Clout, Mr. Rauner said he ‘can’t comment on that’ – and that’s the real Bruce Rauner.”
Democrats Rod Blagojevich and Tony Rezko continue to serve time in federal prison.