CHICAGO — Hours before the final gubernatorial debate in Quincy, the J.B. Pritzker campaign launched a blistering new attack ad featuring the son of a veteran who died after contracting Legionnaire’s disease at the Illinois Veterans Home.
Eugene Miller is one of 14 residents of the Quincy home to die during the Legionnaires’ outbreaks since 2015. His son, Tim Miller, appeared in the television commercial titled “Heroes.”
“Gov. Rauner was more interested in protecting his image than he was the heroes who protected our country,” Tim Miller says to the camera.
As Miller describes visiting his dying father in the hospital, the spot cuts to a graphic on screen that reads, “For six days the state of Illinois knew of a Legionnaires’ disease outbreak and said nothing.”
Then, Tim Miller is again seen on camera: “At that moment my dad needed for the state to honor him and serve him the way that he honored and served his country.”
Eugune Miller served in the U.S. Army in Germany after World War II. He died Aug. 28, 2015 at age 86.
Since WBEZ first raised questions about the Rauner administration’s Quincy response last year, Democrat Pritzker has accused Gov. Bruce Rauner of fatal mismanagement. Now, with this statewide television buy, Pritzker continues to raise the issue in the campaign. Rauner has accused Pritzker of politicizing the deaths.
Attorney General Lisa Madigan, a Democrat, has opened a criminal probe of the Rauner administration’s response.
Not only did the state wait six days before notifying the public there was an outbreak, Rauner’s office reportedly sent an e-mail directing no public notification four days after people started getting sick.
Rauner said his administration did nothing wrong and the Republican Party called the Quincy probe a political move meant to distract voters from Pritzker’s property tax breaks.
The Rauner campaign is launching its own Quincy spots, one featuring a veteran who describes Rauner as a man of integrity. He talks about Rauner’s stay at the Quincy home. “He wanted to be one of the men, drinking the same water,” said Buzzy, a resident.
The other featuring the mayor of Quincy who talks about Rauner’s work to fix address the Legionnaire crisis.
“Bruce cut through the red tape, got us the funding we needed, and got got it done for the veterans of Quincy,” says Mayor Kyle Moore.