RIVER NORTH — Accusations that Gov. Bruce Rauner used his power to unfairly get his child into one of Chicago's premier public schools — a charge that dogged him during his election campaign — returned Wednesday with a call that he reimburse the city for tuition.
In a luncheon speech, Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis accused the governor of "clouting his daughter into Walter Payton High School" and suggested he owes Chicago Public Schools $47,000 for her education.
"Maybe we ought to call the governor and ask him to pay his fair share," she said. "With nine houses, who knows where he and his children actually lived when he clouted his daughter into that school?"
Crain's Chicago Business first reported how in the fall of 2008, Rauner changed his voting residence from Winnetka, where his wife continued to live, to a Downtown condo. That same year, his daughter applied to the highly selective Walter Payton College Prep at 1034 N. Wells St.
His daughter initially was rejected, but Rauner called then-CPS chief Arne Duncan, and his child was admitted. The Sun-Times reported he made a $250,000 donation to Payton.
Rauner has said that the donation was not linked to his daughter's admission and that she was accepted "fair and square."
"My daughter was highly qualified to go to the school," Rauner said during the 2014 campaign.
He has also said complaints about his daughter's enrollment in Payton were politically motivated. A CPS inspector general said an investigation into the matter found that while the girl scored high on admission tests, the results were not high enough and that she was admitted only after a call from Duncan's office.
During a debate with then-Gov. Pat Quinn, Rauner said he talked to Duncan only to "get his advice on what's the process." He said his daughter's admission scores were affected by an illness, and he told CBS2 of his actions, "I would do it again and again."
A Rauner spokeswoman on Wednesday did not respond directly to Lewis' criticism of the Payton enrollment. In the City Club speech, Lewis also called Rauner "the new ISIS recruit" for what she described as his "terrorizing" of CPS in the current state budget impasse.
The Rauner spokeswoman said in an emailed statement: "This kind of rhetoric has no place in American public discourse and sets a terrible example for our kids."
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