Bruce Rauner’s campaign is being accused of bullying the Chicago Sun-Times, and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) says that should be a troubling sign to voters. In response to a story about Rauner supposedly threatening a female executive, his campaign claimed the Sun-Times’ Springfield Bureau chief, Dave McKinney, had a conflict of interest due to being married to a Democratic political consultant—even though she’s hasn’t been doing work involving the governor’s race. After being briefly suspended, McKinney resigned, and is now accusing the Rauner campaign of intimidation.
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Durbin says if true, it’s a disturbing tale. “It is worrisome to me when they are putting that kind of pressure on a major newspaper like the Sun-Times over an extraordinary reporter and the result is we have lost his professional services to journalism,” Durbin said. Rauner was once an investor in the parent company of the Sun-Times, and the paper broke its 3-year-old no-endorsement policy to endorse Rauner. Durbin says his ties to the company “completely discredits” the endorsement.
McKinney blasted his now former company in a resignation letter posted online, saying “I’m convinced this newspaper no longer has the backs of reporters like me.” McKinney also claims Rauner campaign staffers threatened to “go over the heads” of the Sun-Times news staff. He has consulted with former assistant U.S. Attorney Patrick Collins about whether the campaign interfered with his employment.