POLITICS

Illinois GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Steps Back From Government Shutdown Threat

08/05/2014 05:54 pm ET | Updated Aug 05, 2014

Shortly after video surfaced of Illinois gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner (R) stating that he is open to shutting down the state government in order to address the state's underfunded pension system, the millionaire's campaign distanced itself from the remark.

The video (above) -- posted to YouTube on Monday by the Illinois Federation of Teachers, which backs incumbent Gov. Pat Quinn (D) -- shows Rauner speaking during a March 2013 event. The candidate can be heard saying, "If we sort of have to do a do-over and shut things down for a little while, that's what we're gonna do."

Rauner also suggests in the video that the state may have to "do what Ronald Reagan did with the air traffic controllers." The comment references President Reagan's 1981 decision to fire 11,000 air traffic controllers who had gone on strike seeking better pay and working conditions. As Mother Jones notes, the fired workers were banned from ever holding a federal post again, though some were rehired and the ban was later lifted by President Bill Clinton.

In response to the clip, Rauner spokesman Mike Schrimpf told CNN the candidate "has put forth a detailed plan for reviving Illinois, and shutting down state government is not among those plans."

At a separate event in March 2013, Rauner was also filmed saying he would "proudly" shut down the state government "for a few weeks."

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These videos have resurfaced following an Aug. 1 report from the Chicago Sun-Times which confirmed that the candidate channeled at least a portion of his multi-million dollar fortune into accounts in the Cayman Islands, which has a reputation for being an offshore tax haven.

The Quinn campaign criticized Rauner's Cayman investments and urged the Republican to release his full 2013 tax forms. Rauner, however, spoke to the Chicago Tribune, dismissing the Sun-Times report as "political spin."

“Those particular setups had no impact on my personal tax rate," Rauner said. "None whatsoever."

Rauner continues to out-poll the incumbent in the closely watched gubernatorial race. On Tuesday, Roll Call said Quinn's re-election bid is "in rough shape" and reclassified the race from a tossup to tilting in Rauner's favor.

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