Multiple Illinois congressmen have requested the federal government investigate J.B. Pritzker following a watchdog report that alleged the billionaire gubernatorial candidate improperly received more than $331,000 in tax breaks.
In a recently released report, Cook County Inspector General Patrick Blanchard said Pritzker was able to receive massive property tax breaks on a mansion he owns in an affluent Chicago neighborhood as “part of a scheme for obtaining money by means of false representation.”
The report pointed specifically to Pritzker’s associates and family members, including his wife.
Specifically, the inspector general flagged $132,747.18 in “tax refunds” from 2012 to 2014 and $198,684.85 in “tax savings” from 2015 to 2016. Pritzker’s campaign has said the Democrat will repay the county by the end of next week.
All seven members of the Illinois’ Republican congressional delegation sent a letter to the U.S. attorney’s office in Illinois asking for an investigation into Pritzker’s tax dealings.
“The facts described in the Inspector General’s report appear to constitute fraud and perjury,” the lawmakers said.
“Illinois, perhaps more than any other state, has suffered greatly due to public corruption,” they said, noting that four of the last nine governors in The Prairie State have gone to jail. “It is important to send a strong signal to the people of Illinois that no one is above the law, not even billionaires running for Governor.”
The signatories are: Reps. Mike Bost, Rodney Davis, Randy Hultgren, Adam Kinzinger, Darin LaHood, Peter Roskam and John Shimkus.
Pritzker, heir to the Hyatt hotel chain, said the report was “leaked for political purposes in the last month of the campaign.” He said his family “sought a reassessment like other people do” and blamed the “flaws in the property tax system” in Cook County, which encompasses the Chicago area.
Pritzker is challenging incumbent GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner in November. He’s leading Rauner in the polls with a little more than a month to go until Election Day; Fox News has ranked the gubernatorial election as leaning Democrat.
Rauner campaign spokesman Will Allison said the report’s findings “prove what we knew all along – J.B. Pritzker is a fraud.”
“It’s clear from Pritzker’s repeated use of fraudulent tax dodging that he doesn’t have the character and integrity to be governor,” Allison said.
Allison later said, “A bank robber who gives the money back is still a bank robber. Pritzker’s offer to pay back the money he conned out of Illinois taxpayers is nothing less than an admission of guilt that he committed fraud.”
Key to Blanchard’s findings was an October 2015 email in which contractors contended that Pritzker’s wife, M.K. Pritzker, wanted to declare the mansion uninhabitable and directed that toilets be removed before a property tax reassessment.
In his report, Blanchard mentions the state perjury law and federal conspiracy and mail-fraud laws but stops short of indicating whether he referred it to law enforcement authorities.
James E Windsor, Overpasses News Desk
October 7th, 2018