“Capping a week of turmoil in his government and political operation, Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) today [Friday] lost to an outside firm one of his oldest and closest aides, one who had been expected to be chief strategist in Rauner’s re-election campaign. Joining Xpress Professional Services as the new head of its political operation, the firm announced this evening, is Mike Zolnierowicz, who is widely known in Springfield as ‘Mike Z.’” (Crain’s Chicago Business)
AND YOU THOUGHT THE BUDGET WAS DONE. “Illinois has its belated state budget, but the state Capitol’s next flashpoint in the political struggle over finances is about how to fund public education with just weeks before the first day of school.”
“Rauner has suggested he will veto that newly devised school funding method, which could leave the state with no plan to allocate general state education aid and jeopardize schools’ opening. Rauner promised Friday there will be no extended summer vacation. … Rauner objects to specific state-funding allowances for Chicago schools on top of a new requirement that the state pick up the employer’s portion of teacher pensions costs for them — the way it does for every other Illinois district. He calls it a ‘bailout’ for the strapped school system.” (AP)
Billionaire J.B. Pritzker (D) on Saturday accused Rauner of using the issue to create an “us versus them” mentality by “pitting … central and southern Illinois against Chicago” in order to “increase the turnout” in areas where he did well in 2014. (Hotline reporting)
What We're Following See More »
Eleven days before the presidential inauguration last year, a billionaire Russian businessman with ties to the Kremlin visited Trump Tower in Manhattan to meet with Donald J. Trump’s personal lawyer and fixer, Michael D. Cohen, according to video footage and another person who attended the meeting. In Mr. Cohen’s office on the 26th floor, he and the oligarch, Viktor Vekselberg, discussed a mutual desire to strengthen Russia’s relations with the United States under President Trump, according to Andrew Intrater, an American businessman who attended the meeting and invests money for Mr. Vekselberg."
"In the months after Donald Trump rode to victory while calling for mass deportations, Russian operatives bought dozens of Facebook ads targeted at the Hispanic community seeking to further inflame tensions already roiled by the campaign's racially charged rhetoric, according to USA TODAY analysis. Thousands of ads released by House Democrats this month showed Russian operatives focused on race during the presidential election in what experts say was a clear effort to amplify existing divisions."