Rauner's daughter's school admission called into question

CHICAGO -- There are questions Thursday about whether clout played a role in helping the daughter of gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner get into an elite Chicago school.

An inspector general revealed that she was not qualified to be admitted into the school.

"This is an issue that deals with clout and telling the truth," said Gov. Pat Quinn.

The governor resurrected the issue that came up during the Republican primary when candidate Bruce Rauner explained how, back in 2008, his then 14-year-old daughter, who grew up in tony Winnetka and attended elementary school there, was admitted to CPS's highly-touted Walter Payton High School. The wealthy businessman said repeatedly that residency was not a problem because he also owned a city condominium.

"My daughter was highly qualified to go to the school," said Rauner on March 13, "and she's entitled to go to whatever school she can choose."

"The bar was very high for white students," said James Sullivan, CPS Inspector General. "She tested well, just not high enough to meet Payton standards."

Outgoing CPS Inspector General James Sullivan said publicly for the first time Wednesday night that the daughter was not qualified and was admitted only after her father called then-CPS CEO Arne Duncan's office.

"There was a phone call made to the CEO's office by Mr. Rauner," Sullivan said. "Somebody in the CEO's office called Walter Payton and his daughter was admitted to the school."

Fifteen months later, Rauner made a $250,000 gift to the school he says was unrelated to the admission of his daughter. She graduated from Payton in 2012.

"Anybody who's running for governor better give the full story," said Gov. Quinn, "all the facts in a truthful manner. So far we haven't received that."

The Rauner campaign responded to the clout allegations with a statement reading, "It's disgusting that Pat Quinn and his allies are attempting to bully and tarnish a seventh grader's stellar academic record, but that's what governors under federal investigation for clout and abuse of taxpayer money do."

That statement was in reference to federal and state investigations into Quinn's 2010 Neighborhood Recovery initiative. The governor said Thursday that he has no intention of testifying before the legislative audit commission that will conduct hearings on that now-defunct program in July.