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Aide: Rauner ‘obviously renounces’ former power broker William Cellini

SPRINGFIELD — Bruce Rauner’s campaign Wednesday quickly distanced him from what sounded like an endorsement from convicted felon William Cellini, saying the GOP candidate for governor “obviously renounces” the Springfield power broker who praised Rauner as “very impressive.”

The statement released Wednesday morning came after Gov. Pat Quinn’s campaign slammed Rauner for declining comment Tuesday night at a Springfield campaign event when asked if he welcomed what sounded like a clear endorsement from Cellini.

“Bruce is running against the corrupt, insider ways of doing things in Springfield and obviously renounces Cellini,” Rauner spokesman Mike Schrimpf said. “While you can’t control who endorses you, you can control who you endorse - and that’s why Pat Quinn is making another ridiculous attack.

“Pat knew about Rod Blagojevich’s corrupt dealings and vouched for him anyway, calling Blago ‘honest’ and ‘ethical’ and someone who ‘always does the right thing.’ This is the biggest lie yet from Quinnocchio,” Schrimpf said. “Quinn should have resigned and helped expose Blagojevich. Instead, Quinn stood by him.”

Cellini, who was convicted for his role with influence peddler Stuart Levine in a shakedown of a Hollywood producer for a $1.5 million contribution to Blagojevich, was one of several dozen attendees at a Rauner event Tuesday night in Springfield.

Asked by reporters if he was supporting Rauner, Cellini said, “I’ve been a Republican all of my life, and he’s the Republican candidate.

Cellini, who said he supported state Sen. Kirk Dillard, R-Hinsdale, in the gubernatorial primary, went on to describe Rauner as “very impressive.”

Rauner later was asked if he welcomed an endorsement from Cellini, and the candidate declined to answer, saying, “I don’t know. I didn’t even know he was here. I don’t really know him. I can’t comment on that.”

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