SPRINGFIELD, Illinois — At least a dozen of the many companies owned by the investment firm of Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner have gone bankrupt, according to a published report.
The Springfield bureau of Lee Enterprises reported (http://bit.ly/1rvTRKN ) Thursday that a review of court records and news accounts found a dozen of hundreds of companies owned by the GTCR firm went bankrupt during or soon after Rauner's 20-year tenure at the company. A federal bankruptcy trial regarding one of the firms, Trans Healthcare Inc., is unfolding this week in Tampa, Florida.
Rauner served as a board member on seven of the dozen companies, the review found.
Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, Rauner's opponent in the November election, has tried to make the Winnetka venture capitalist's business management record an issue in the campaign, just as Rauner has criticized Quinn's management of state government.
The Quinn campaign claims that the Trans Healthcare case is evidence that Rauner does not take responsibility for problems with his businesses. But Rauner spokesman Mike Schrimpf argues that Rauner has seen far more successes than failures as an investor.
"What's beyond doubt is that GTCR is one of the most respected and admired venture capital and investment firms in the country and helps drive the economy forward. Bruce is proud of his role in building the business," Schrimpf said.
Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson charged Thursday that Rauner "has never taken responsibility for any of his business failures — yet he always takes the profits and takes off."
GTCR, from which Rauner officially retired in 2012, works by creating new companies or acquiring existing ones and later selling them or taking them public. It also manages money from Illinois state employees' retirement funds.
The campaign says GTCR created and oversaw "hundreds" of companies. Rauner put the figure at around 400 in an appearance earlier this month.
The companies that went bankrupt include Sorenson Communications, a company purchased by GTCR in 2005 that provides telephone services for the hearing-impaired. Lee Enterprises reported that in 2013, after Rauner left GTCR, the company agreed to pay $15.75 million to settle a Federal Communications Commission investigation into whether the company billed for questionable calls. Sorenson filed for bankruptcy in March.
In the case of Trans Healthcare, a nursing home chain, the families of several residents filed suit in two state courts, claiming that GTCR took part in a fraudulent scheme to avoid liability for deaths, allegations GTCR denies. The families are now seeking to collect on multimillion-dollar judgments in federal bankruptcy court.
Rauner is not named as a defendant in the suit, but GTCR is. Trans Healthcare went into receivership in 2009.
"The courts will sort out all the facts," Rauner told reporters this week. "I'm confident that no one at GTCR engaged in any inappropriate behavior."
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