Bruce Rauner was born in Chicago and grew up in Deerfield, Illinois, a suburb 25 miles north of Chicago. His mother, Ann (née Erickson), was a nurse, and his father, Vincent Rauner, was a lawyer and senior vice president for Motorola. He has three siblings, Christopher, Mark, and Paula, and is of half Swedish and half German descent.
Rauner graduated summa cum laude with a degree in economics from Dartmouth College. He later received an MBA from Harvard University.
Rauner was the Chairman of private equity firm GTCR, where he had worked for more than 30 years, starting in 1981 after his graduation from Harvard through his retirement in October 2012. A number of state pension funds, including those of Illinois, have invested in GTCR.
After leaving GTCR, Rauner opened an office for a self-financed venture firm, R8 Capital Partners. The firm will invest up to $15 million in smaller Illinois companies.
Rauner served as Chairman of Choose Chicago, the not-for-profit that serves as the city's convention and tourism bureau, resigning in May 2013, and as Chairman of the Chicago Public Education Fund. Rauner has also served as the Chairman of the Education Committee of the Civic Committee of The Commercial Club of Chicago.
In 2015 Rauner reported earnings over $180 million, an average of more than $3,000,000 per week.
Rauner has served as an advisor to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
In March 2013, Rauner formed an exploratory committee to look at a run for Governor of Illinois as a Republican. Rauner said that his top priorities included streamlining government, improving education and improving the state's business climate. He supports term limits and said he would serve no more than eight years (two terms) as governor. On June 5, 2013, Rauner officially announced his candidacy for governor, telling Chicago magazine's Carol Felsenthal his platform would include overhauling tax policy and freezing property taxes.
In October 2013, Rauner announced that his running mate would be Wheaton City Councilwoman Evelyn Sanguinetti.
Rauner won the March 18 Republican primary with 328,934 votes (40.13%), defeating State Senator Kirk Dillard's 305,120 (37.22%), State Senator Bill Brady's 123,708 (15.09%) and Illinois Treasurer Dan Rutherford's 61,848 (7.55%).
For the general election, Rauner was endorsed by the majority of Illinois newspapers including the Chicago Tribune, the Daily Herald, and the Chicago Sun-Times.
During the general election, television ads aired regarding Rauner's role in a chain of long-term care homes owned by his companies that faced lawsuits stemming from the death and alleged mistreatment of residents. Among the problems outlined in court cases, state records and media reports are the deaths of developmentally disabled residents in bathtubs, "deplorable" living conditions, sexual assaults and a failure by employees to stop residents from harming themselves.
Also during the election, the media reported on a controversy regarding Rauner's daughter being admitted to Walter Payton Prep school in Chicago in 2008 through the "principal picks" process. The family maintains several residences, including one in downtown Chicago that enabled her to apply to the Chicago-based school. Although she had top grades, she had missed several days of school and therefore did not qualify through the regular admissions process. It was later revealed that Rauner had sought information on this process from his personal friend Arne Duncan, then CEO of Chicago Public Schools. Rauner has said he had no recollection of speaking with Duncan directly. According to another source, she was not a "principal pick", but was let in following the phone call between Bruce Rauner and Arne Duncan. The Rauners donated $250,000 to the school during the subsequent school year. Rauner has a long history of contributing to Chicago Public Schools.
On October 22, 2014, Dave McKinney, a Chicago Sun-Times political reporter and bureau chief, resigned from the paper, citing pressure brought to bear on him by Sun Times management with regard to his coverage of Rauner. McKinney had completed an investigative news story about a lawsuit filed by Christine Kirk, the CEO of LeapSource, a firm at which Rauner served as director. The piece, written by three reporters and approved by the newspaper's editors, described Rauner using "hardball tactics" to threaten Kirk and her family. According to McKinney's attorney, the Rauner campaign requested the story include that McKinney had a conflict of interest due to his marriage to Ann Liston, a Democratic media consultant; the campaign eventually published details about the Liston's LLC sharing office space with a legally separate, long-term Democratic strategist firm, of which Liston was part-owner. The LLC was employed by a pro-Quinn PAC. McKinney says any notion of conflict of interest was untrue, a position backed up publicly by Sun-Times management. Rauner is a former investor of the Sun-Times and received the newspaper's backing, marking the first time the media organization endorsed any candidate after imposing a moratorium on political endorsements three years earlier.
On November 4, 2014, Rauner was elected Governor of Illinois, though initially without Gov. Quinn's concession. Pat Quinn conceded defeat the next day. Rauner received 50.27% of the vote, while Quinn won 46.35%. He carried every Illinois county except Cook County.
Rauner spent a record $26 million of his own money on his election.
On June 20, 2016, Rauner confirmed that he will run for a second term as Illinois governor in 2018.
Rauner was sworn in as Governor of Illinois on January 12, 2015. In his first executive order, he halted state hiring as well as discretionary spending, and called for state agencies to sell surplus property.
On February 9, 2015, Rauner signed an executive order blocking so called "fair share" union fees from state employee paychecks. The same day, Rauner hired a legal team headed by former U.S. Attorney Dan Webb and his law firm Winston & Strawn to file a declaratory judgment action in Federal Court to affirm his action. In February 2015 Rauner proposed $4.1 billion in budget cuts affecting higher education, Medicaid, state employee pensions, public transit, and local government support. In April, Rauner also suspended funding for programs addressing domestic violence, homeless youth, autism, and immigrant integration. Critics called these moves "morally reprehensible" and harmful to the state economy.
In May 2015, Governor Rauner announced the shelving of the Illiana Tollway project, a controversial proposed tollway between I-55 in Illinois and I-65 in Indiana, citing the "lack of sufficient capital resources" and the budget impasse, but did not completely remove it from the state's list of proposed infrastructure projects.
Rauner vetoed the Illinois state budget on June 25, 2015 which would have created a deficit of nearly $4 billion but covered what Illinois Democratic lawmakers called "vital services". He stated that he would not sign a budget until the Democratic state legislature passed his "Turnaround Agenda" to reduce trade union power and freeze property taxes. With no state budget, social service agencies have cut back on services, state universities have laid off staff, public transit service has ceased in Monroe and Randolph Counties, and Child Care Assistance eligibility has been cut by 90%. Illinois's unpaid bill backlog could reach as high as $25 billion by FY19 if things continue as they have been. On June 30, 2016, just before the beginning of the next fiscal year, Rauner signed a temporary bipartisan stopgap budget that would allow public schools to continue operating for an additional year and for necessary state services to continue for 6 months. However, the stopgap budget covers only 65% of social services agencies' normally allocated funds and provides $900,000 less for colleges and universities than FY15, while attempting to cover eighteen months' worth of expenses, all while continuing the uncertainty that Illinois nonprofits faced during FY16.
In July 2017, Rauner vetoed a budget that increased the state income tax from 3.75% to 4.95% and the corporate tax from 5.25% to 7%, an increase of $5 billion in additional tax revenue. However, the Illinois legislature, with the help of several Republicans, overrode his veto. Following this action, considered a political defeat for Rauner, he made major changes to his staff, with his chief of staff, deputy chief of staff and his spokesperson included among the officials fired, and he replaced them with high-ranking officials from the Illinois Policy Institute along with a former spokesperson for Wisconsin governor Scott Walker. These moves were seen by the media as a shift to the right. Rauner fired several of those new officials after issuing a controversial statement related to race.
Rauner's stance on labor unions has received considerable attention and controversy. Rauner believes that local governments should be allowed to pass Right to work laws. Additionally, Rauner believes that the state should ban some political contributions by public unions, saying that "government unions should not be allowed to influence the public officials they are lobbying, and sitting across the bargaining table from, through campaign donations and expenditures."
In 2014, Rauner's election campaign was helped financially by Kenneth C. Griffin, CEO of Citadel, a successful global investment firm, who made a rare and impassioned plea to the sold-out audience at the Economic Club of Chicago (ECC) in May 2013 to replace the Democrats at all levels of governance. He supported Rauner's campaign promises to "cut spending and overhaul the state’s pension system, impose term limits and weaken public employee unions." Griffin called for a show of financial support to Rauner that met with an increase in campaign donations representing tens of millions of dollars, or half the $65 million spent on Rauner's 2014 election campaign. Rauner contributed half of this to his own campaign and the rest came from "nine other individuals, families or companies they control" – "a concentration of political money without precedent in Illinois history."
Rauner has received media attention for his political stance on the minimum wage. Rauner currently favors either raising the national minimum wage so Illinois employers are on the same level as those in neighboring states, or unilaterally raising Illinois' minimum wage, but pairing the change with pro-business reforms to the state's tax code, workers compensation reform, and tort reform.
Rauner's position on the minimum wage evolved significantly during his campaign. At a candidate forum on December 11, 2013, Rauner stated that he would favor reducing Illinois's minimum wage from $8.25 to the federal minimum wage of $7.25. The Chicago Sun-Times also uncovered video of Rauner at a campaign event in September 2013, where he said that he was "adamantly, adamantly against raising the minimum wage" and audio of an interview with Rauner from January 10, 2014, when he said that "I have said, on a number of occasions, that we could have a lower minimum wage or no minimum wage as part of increasing Illinois' competitiveness."
Rauner strongly opposed Governor Pat Quinn's proposal to make the 2011 temporary income tax increase permanent, instead calling for the Illinois' income tax rate to gradually be rolled back to 3 percent. On January 1, 2015, the income tax increase automatically partially sunset, with the personal income tax rate falling from 5% to 3.75% and the corporate tax rate from 7% to 5.25%.
In July 2014, Rauner called for expanding Illinois' sales tax to dozens of services, such as legal services, accounting services, and computer programming, which currently are not taxed in Illinois. Rauner estimated the expanded sales tax would bring in an additional $600 million a year. Rauner's services tax proposal was harshly criticized by Pat Quinn, who said it would fall hardest on low income people.
Rauner also supported caps on local property tax rates, citing the high rates already present, and supported measures that would allow the caps to be raised only by referendum.
Rauner strongly favors term limits, and has pledged to limit himself to no more than eight years as governor. Rauner organized and funded a push to put a constitutional amendment imposing term limits on Illinois legislators on the November 2014 ballot, gathering 591,092 signatures. However, the term limits amendment was struck down in court as unconstitutional.
During his 2014 campaign, Rauner called for "billions" of dollars per year in public spending on infrastructure, but declined to detail how he would pay for the spending.
During his gubernatorial campaign Rauner declined to take a position on the controversial Illiana Expressway and Peotone Airport projects advanced by Pat Quinn. After taking office in 2015 he suspended the Illiana project pending a cost-benefit review.
In February 2015, Rauner proposed raising highway funding and slashing transit funding which was seen as inefficient spending.
Rauner stated that while he wants laws and policies to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill, he won't go beyond that due to constitutional concerns.
On July 29, 2016, Rauner signed SB 1564 into law, which requires doctors and pregnancy centers that refuse to perform abortions for religious or moral reasons to refer patients to places where they can have an abortion instead. The bill was passed on partisan lines, without a single Republican legislator voting for the bill, and Rauner's decision to sign the bill into law angered conservative groups. The same day, Rauner also signed a bill that "extends insurance coverage for nearly all contraceptives." On August 5, Rauner was sued by an anti-abortion 'crisis pregnancy center', a Rockford, Illinois-based medical center, and a Downers Grove physician, arguing that SB 1564 is unconstitutional. On December 20, 2016, a Winnebago County Circuit Judge issued a preliminary injunction, which temporarily prohibits the State of Illinois from enforcing the law after it going into effect on January 1, 2017.
In April 2017, Rauner pledged to veto a pro-abortion bill that would have removed a clause that would illegalize abortions if Roe v. Wade were overturned and would remove restrictions on using taxpayer medicaid and employee health insurance funds for performing abortions.
The Rauner family have donated "thousands of dollars" to Planned Parenthood, and prior to his 2014 campaign, the Rauner Family Foundation donated $510,000 to the American Civil Liberties Union's Roger Baldwin Foundation.
On August 12, 2016, Rauner vetoed a bill that would have automatically registered anyone in Illinois who sought a new or updated drivers license as well as other services to vote unless they chose to opt out. Rauner stated that he supports automatic voter registration, but that he vetoed the bill because he was worried that "the bill would inadvertently open the door to voter fraud and run afoul of federal election law." On August 28, 2017, Rauner signed a revised version of the automatic voter registration bill.
On August 28, 2017, Rauner signed a bill into law that prohibited state and local police from arresting anyone solely due to their immigration status or due to federal detainers. Some fellow Republicans criticized Rauner for his action, claiming the bill made Illinois a sanctuary state.
Rauner was nominated for the 2008 Philanthropist of the Year by the Chicago Association of Fundraising Professionals. In 2003 Rauner received the Daley Medal from the Illinois Venture Capital Association for extraordinary support to the Illinois economy and was given the Association for Corporate Growth's Lifetime Achievement Award. Rauner and his wife were nominated for the Golden Apple Foundation's 2011 Community Service Award.
Rauner has been a financial supporter of projects including Chicago's Red Cross regional headquarters, the YMCA in the Little Village neighborhood, six new charter high schools, an AUSL turnaround campus, scholarship programs for disadvantaged Illinois public school students, and achievement-based compensation systems for teachers and principals in Chicago Public Schools. He provided major funding for the construction of the Rauner Special Collections Library at Dartmouth College, endowed full professor chairs at Dartmouth College, Morehouse College, University of Chicago and Harvard Business School, and was the lead donor for the Stanley C. Golder Center for Private Equity and Entrepreneurial Finance at the University of Illinois.
Rauner serves on the board of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
Rauner lives in Winnetka, Illinois with his wife, Diana Mendley Rauner, and family. He has three children with Diana Mendley. He also has three children from his first marriage, to Elizabeth Konker Wessel, whom he married in 1980, separated from in 1990 and their divorce being finalized in 1993.
The Rauners reside in the Illinois Executive Mansion in Springfield. They also own ranches in Montana and Wyoming. Rauner is an Episcopalian.
Rauner's exact net worth is unclear but has been estimated at, minimally, several hundred million dollars.
During his campaign for governor he promised that he would accept only $1 in salary and no benefits from his office, including forgoing a pension and reimbursement for travel expenses. In 2014 Rauner's election was helped financially by Ken Griffin, a successful hedge fund manager.