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Rauner, exploring gubernatorial bid, sells stake in Sun-Times’ parent company

Bruce Rauner

Bruce Rauner

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Updated: May 7, 2013 6:15AM

SPRINGFIELD — A potential GOP candidate for governor who owned a stake in the corporate parent of the Chicago Sun-Times has sold his interest in the company, the media group confirmed Friday.

Bruce Rauner, who held a 10 percent stake in Chicago-based Wrapports, LLC, parted with that investment in another sign he’s ramping up his 2014 candidacy for the Executive Mansion.

Wrapports Chairman Michael Ferro said Friday the decision for Rauner to sell his ownership stake in the company back to Ferro was designed to head off conflict-of-interest questions should Rauner formally enter the 2014 race.

“Bruce is deciding on whether to lead a life of public service and, to do that, there could be the appearance of a conflict if he had ownership in one of the state’s leading newspapers,” Ferro said Friday in an interview.

Wrapports owns the Chicago Sun-Times plus about 40 other suburban publications and the Chicago Reader.

Rauner’s spokesman issued a statement Friday, saying “Bruce has great respect for the role of the press and sold his stake in the company to avoid even the appearance of any conflict of interest if he decides to run.”

While not well known to Illinois voters, Rauner has built significant support among key business leaders and shown an ability to raise campaign cash as he tests the waters for a 2014 run.

Rauner disclosed this week he had raised $1.3 million since March 5, putting him well ahead of any of his possible GOP rivals in terms of fund-raising.

Republican Treasurer Dan Rutherford raised nearly $203,000 since the start of the year, making him the second most-active potential GOP gubernatorial candidate next to Rauner when it comes to raising political dollars.

Rauner, a millionaire venture capitalist, was part of the original investment group that bought the Chicago Sun-Times in December 2011.

Ferro, citing company policy, said he would be unable to advocate for or contribute to Rauner should he run for governor.

Ferro also said he remains “supportive” of the Chicago Sun-Times decision not to pick sides in political campaigns, signaling no endorsement for Rauner or anyone else in the pages of the newspaper in the upcoming election cycle.

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