The Chicago Sun-Times reporter, Dave McKinney, hired former federal prosecutor Patrick Collins, who previously represented the United States Attorney's Office in prosecuting former Illinois Gov. George Ryan (R), to investigate whether Rauner pushed the newspaper to take down McKinney's story, according to the trade publication Crain's Chicago Business. Collins told Chicago Business that Rauner's campaign seems to have argued to the Sun-Times that there was a conflict of interest in McKinney writing the story because he's married to Democratic media consultant Ann Liston.
Collins said that the couple created barriers to make sure there was never any question of a conflict of interest.
"Dave McKinney has a body of work as a dogged, but fair and impartial reporter and what has happened recently was an attempt to unfairly besmirch Dave's reputation and he has asked me to evaluate whether there was an improper interference with Dave's employment relationship with the Sun-Times," Collins told Chicago Business.
According to Collins, a few hours before the Sun-Times story went to press, Rauner's campaign tried to kill the story by arguing that the fact that Liston's political work for Democrats created a conflict of interest for McKenney. Collins didn't offer any further details about how the Rauner campaign tried to prevent the story from coming out.
Chicago Business did note that McKinney has written stories critical of Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D), who Rauner is running against.
Rauner's campaign manager, Chip Englander, told Chicago Business in an email that the Rauner campaign thinks McKinney has had an "extraordinary conflict of interest" stemming from Liston is linked to groups that have done advertising against Rauner.
"The bottom line is the campaign followed all proper channels to combat the misleading and inaccurate story prior to its publication," Englander said. "Our request to editors was simply that the reporter's deep connections to an attack group that has spent millions attacking Bruce Rauner be disclosed by the paper in accordance with the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics."
The TPM Polltracker average gives Rauner a 0.3 point lead over Quinn.
(H/t: Capitol Fax Blog)