It's a campaign. So people expect pandering to be somewhat commonplace. So maybe I shouldn't be offended by Bruce Rauner's pandering to minority communities.
But I am.
I previously wrote about the lack of diversity at GTCR, the private equity firm founded and run by Bruce Rauner. To recap -- out of 51 people on the GTCR staff website -- I found:
0 African Americans
1 Latino (a)
Recently, perhaps in response to this and other criticism, Mr. Rauner tried to drive a wedge with minority groups by speaking at an event at Chicago State University. He made sure to discuss economic and educational opportunities for African Americans, while claiming that he is the one who would deliver for them.
Then Mr. Rauner, as his campaign phrased it, put "his own money where his mouth is," by promising a one million dollar investment in a South Side community credit union during a closed-door campaign event.
His newfound "advocacy" for supporting minority-owned businesses as a political candidate begs the question: what was Bruce Rauner's record when it came to his investments and appointing well-qualified minority and women leaders to his companies' boards?
I went back to research GTCR's numerous boards of directors at its current investments. If the chairman of this firm cared about diversity and supporting minority communities, surely his record would prove it.
Out of the 199 board members slots that are listed through GTCR's website and their companies' websites, I found:
3 African Americans
3 Latino (a)
So, the facts are that neither Bruce Rauner's company, nor the companies GTCR owns, are diverse.
Keep in mind, as Chicago Sun-Times columnist Laura Washington pointed out, Mr. Rauner has prided himself on his unique ability to attract, recruit, and retain talented executives. He says he wants to run Illinois like his businesses.
Yet - out of more than 199 plum board positions - he "couldn't find" any more than three African Americans?
Could Bruce Rauner's record of inclusion and diversity at GTCR and its companies speak to the truth of the matter?
It sure looks like he doesn't value diversity until it's time to count votes.
Robert T. Starks is Professor Emeritus at Northeastern Illinois University's Jacob Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies in Chicago. He studies and teaches Black Politics and Black Studies.