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Ex-business partner says Rauner wants lawsuit kept quiet

Chicago Sun Times

Thursday, October 12, 2017  |  Article  |  Dan Mihalopoulos and Tina Sfondeles

Rauner, Bruce

A former business partner of Gov. Bruce Rauner is suing Rauner, but all court records in the case are being kept secret — allegedly at the governor’s request.

The lawsuit against Rauner was filed last week by Harreld “Kip” Kirkpatrick III and the Kirkpatrick Capital Partners Fund, according to Cook County Circuit Court records.

Kirkpatrick is a former Northwestern University basketball star and co-CEO of the Vistria Group, a private-equity firm in Chicago.

He said the lawsuit was filed as a “result of a dispute with a former partner” — namely Rauner, according to a memo that Kirkpatrick sent to Vistria employees.

Kirkpatrick also told his employees that all documents in the case were hidden from public view because that’s how Rauner wants it.

“Gov. Rauner has requested that the details of this lawsuit be sealed so I am unable to provide you with additional information at this time,” Kirkpatrick said in the memo sent on the same day the suit was filed.

“In consultation with our legal counsel, we do not believe the lawsuit should be sealed and we are hopeful that a judge will deny Gov. Rauner’s attempt to keep it from public view,” Kirkpatrick added.

Rauner aides declined to comment Wednesday. A spokesman for Kirkpatrick also declined to comment.

Dan Webb, a former U.S. attorney with the law firm of Winston & Strawn LLP, is representing Kirkpatrick, according to court records.

Rauner’s lawyers are from the Barlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott LLP firm.

In Kirkpatrick’s memo to his employees, which the Chicago Sun-Times obtained, he said the dispute with Rauner had been brewing since long before he sued the governor.

“We have spent months trying to avoid this action but must do what is in the best interests of all stakeholders involved,” Kirkpatrick wrote.

Kirkpatrick told his employees that the legal fight with Rauner stemmed from an unspecified “prior endeavor” before he helped form the Vistria Group, and that the Vistria Group “is in no way associated with this litigation.”

Rauner disclosed a “partnership interest” in Kirkpatrick Partners Capital Fund I LP in the statement of financial interests for 2016 that he filed with the Illinois secretary of state in April.

This business venture was formed in June 2011 in Delaware, public records show.

Kirkpatrick announced in 2009 that he was running for Illinois treasurer as a Democrat, and raised more than $500,000 for that race before dropping out. First lady Diana Rauner contributed $20,000 to Kirkpatrick’s campaign in 2009.