Republican Illinois gubernatorial candidate and billionaire private equity businessman Bruce Rauner prominently features his relationship with his current wife, Diana, in an ad for his campaign. However, though Rauner has made his family life a major part of his campaign since winning the GOP nomination in March, the circumstances behind the ending of his first marriage have never been revealed.
Court documents examined by Business Insider reveal a previously unknown aspect of his biography — Rauner’s marriage to his first wife, Elizabeth, ended after she said she had discovered he had a “paramour” in 1990. This alleged affair has not been previously reported.
According to a divorce settlement signed by both Bruce and Elizabeth on July 29, 1993, they were married in 1980. The pair had three children together. In 1992, documents in their divorce case indicate Elizabeth Rauner objected to Bruce Rauner’s attempt to have a lawyer named Daniel Levy join his legal team because of a meeting the couple had had with him when she first began to explore the possibility of getting a divorce in 1990. At a hearing in October 1992, both Elizabeth and Bruce Rauner’s lawyers discussed her account of discovering an affair.
Court transcripts of that hearing show James Feldman, who was representing Elizabeth Rauner, outlining the circumstances of the meeting with Levy.
“Our client, Beth, has three small children. She discovered a paramour existed. She then confronted Mr. Rauner. He said that he wanted to reconcile continuing to live in the house,” Feldman explained. “Then she discovered some notes indicating that he had consulted with an attorney about a divorce. He then suggested to her that they consult with an attorney.”
View that portion of the transcript below:
Levy, who was seeking to represent Rauner, spoke next and said there were “several things that have to be corrected” about Feldman’s account of the meeting. Though Levy disagreed the meeting constituted “shared confidences” between him and Elizabeth Rauner, he did not dispute or confirm Feldman’s statement she found her husband had a “paramour.” The judge subsequently denied Bruce Rauner’s request to have Levy represent him.
Elizabeth Rauner’s discovery of the alleged affair was also discussed in an affidavit she gave in conjunction with Bruce Rauner’s attempts to have Levy on his legal team. The affidavit, signed by Elizabeth Rauner, said the couple “were experiencing marital difficulties” in the “summer of 1990” and that Bruce Rauner told her “despite his liaison with another woman, he still wanted to remain at home and attempt to reconcile the marriage.”
According to the affidavit, Elizabeth Rauner then discovered her husband “talked to a divorce lawyer, and also to a mental health professional … who specialised in working with children in restructured families.” At the time of their “difficulties,” the couple’s three children would have been about 6, 4, and 1 year old.
View that portion of the affidavit below:
In another 1992 affidavit, Elizabeth Rauner discussed her fear that Bruce Rauner would take action that would “disturb the status quo of our assets” as they were negotiating the settlement. Elizabeth Rauner said this worry was provoked by a phone call in which Bruce Rauner told her he was attempting to purchase a home where “he intended to reside with his girlfriend.”
Bruce Rauner’s marriage to Elizabeth was officially dissolved on July 29, 1993.
Last month, a Chicago ABC affiliate reported Bruce and his second wife, Diana, have been married for “20 years.” On his campaign website, Bruce Rauner describes Diana as “the love of his life.” According to engagement notices posted in both The New York Times and The Chicago Tribune, as of 1989, Diana was an associate at the investment firm where Rauner was partner and was set to be married to another man.
Neither Bruce Rauner nor his campaign responded to a request for comment on this story.
View a selection of relevant court documents from Bruce and Elizabeth Rauner’s divorce below.
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