The wealthiest man in Illinois has taken matters into his own hands. As reported today in the New York Times, Ken Griffin, the CEO of Citadel, one of the world's biggest investment funds, has initiated the biggest money shower in the state's campaign finance history.
Along with some of his more prominent colleagues at the Chicago Economic Club, the investment magnate has poured tens of millions of dollars into an endeavor to promote the well-known conservative motifs of curbing unions, cutting spending, overhauling state pensions and imposing term limits. The plan proved successful, and the money was a key factor leading to the election of current Governor Bruce Rauner.
The key players in this unprecedented scale of political contributions for Illinois are all in finance, the sector responsible for the biggest slice of political giving to presidential candidates this cycle. In addition to Griffin, they are Florida-based private equity magnate John Childs, NY-based hedge fund founder Paul Singer and Sam Zell, founder of Chicago's Equity Group Investments. The only one of Rauner's big donors not in the finance club is businessman Richard Uihlein, founder of a major shipping materials corporation.
We decided to take a look at where these big donors actually stand politically, based on the records of which candidates they've given to in the past. As it turns out, these billionaires are actually less conservative than you might expect: in fact they are to the left of many Republican presidential candidates. Also, all but one are more moderate than the Republicans' average ideological score in Congress: 7C.
Counter-intuitively, they seem to be more conservative than Mr. Rauner, the man they helped elect, though this may not be as straightforward as it seems. Rauner's campaign specifically targeted moderate voters and donors in an effort to appeal to a wider audience.
The Governor's fierce battle with the legislature on the state's budget might be a signal that he is in fact in sync with the big fish backing his campaign.