Bruce Rauner says there's "nothing sinister" about venture capital firms using the Cayman Islands as a tax shelter, but says he has never used the investment vehicle for his personal benefit.
A recent report by the Chicago Sun-Times details that a portion of his earnings have connections to the Cayman Islands -- considered a tax haven for the wealthy.
Until he stepped down to run for governor, Rauner was head of a capital investment firm, GTCR, which has several investment pools there.
At an appearance at the Illinois State Fair last night, Rauner -- wearing a plaid shirt, jeans and brown boots -- insisted it's a "widespread, common practice."
"What my firm did is what many, many financial firms do and I think the majority of venture capital firms and private equity firms do, and that is - when they invest in a foreign company, a non-U.S. company, they'll set up an investment vehicle, often in the Caymans, so that their limited partners are treated, for tax purposes, the same was as, as if it was a U.S. company."
Rauner says he has never, nor will he ever, set up a personal investment vehicle outside the U.S.
What his former company did, he says, was not "sinister or strange."
"And it did not in any way change my tax rate or my tax burden. I pay the same tax rate as Pat Quinn," he says.
Gov. Quinn's campaign has long tried to paint Rauner as so rich, he's out of touch, and has gone out of its way to keep the Caymans story in headlines. Earlier this week Quinn said stashing money in foreign countries is "not patriotic."
Rauner's campaign has largely been propelled by his fortune.