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'Moral Monday' Activists Target Rauner Ally As Government Shutdown Looms

By aaroncynic in News on Jun 30, 2015 10:10PM

Seven people, including five clergy members, were arrested in the lobby of Citadel Investment Group at the latest “Moral Monday” protest in Chicago.

Cidatel is the global investment group run by Ken Griffin, Illinois’ wealthiest person and Governor Bruce Rauner’s largest donor. After a short rally at the Thompson Center, more than 100 activists led by clergy marched to the corporation’s headquarters on Dearborn, where several were quickly arrested for trying to hold a speak-out after entering the building.

“Extremely wealthy people like Ken Griffin have bought our political system and they hire people like Bruce Rauner to implement policies to serve and protect them and their wealth,” the group chanted in a ‘mic check’ led by a clergy member outside the building as those inside were being zip-tied.

The latest in the series of demonstrations, modeled after demonstrations that began in North Carolina to protest various pieces of Republican legislation in that state, made sharp criticism of the governor and his connections to wealthy businesspeople as a potential government shutdown over a budget impasse looms. Reverend Rachel Birkhahn-Rommelfanger of the United Methodist Church said:

“We’re at Citadel because of Ken Griffin’s donations to Governor Rauner, and we want to attack the root causes, which is the corporate power that’s in our state. We’re trying to talk about pulling that out and asking corporations to pay their fair share instead of electing officials that will help them get more tax cuts, and then cut services to those most vulnerable in our society.”

At the heart of the budget impasse is the near $6 billion hole that was created when Illinois’ temporary flat income tax rate of 5 percent rolled back to 3.5 at the beginning of the year. Last week, Rauner vetoed the majority of a budget passed by state democrats that contained a $4 billion deficit, calling it “unbalanced” and “unconstitutional.” Rauner’s proposed fiscal plans include no new sources of revenue, instead relying on large cuts, mostly to social services. The legislature has just one day to go to pass a budget to avoid a shutdown.

Critics like Birkhahn-Rommelfanger say that even if a shutdown happens, vulnerable Illinoisans that rely on social services would be no better off than if a budget containing the proposed cuts passes. “We’re going to be in a very similar position as we are right now if a budget that cuts the things that are most important goes through. We’re not going to be in a better place if the government stays open.”