Report: Pritzker Funding Gov’t Projects With Fortune Problematic

By Benjamin Cox on December 26, 2019 at 9:47am

Some political pundits are raising the alarm about Governor J.B. Pritzker using his vast personal fortune to fund things at the State House. During his first year in office, Pritzker has spent about $3 million of his own money on everything from boosting pay to his top aides to renovations at the governor’s mansion.

Many see the problem with transparency, because Pritzker’s donations to state functions aren’t subject to open records laws in the same way as public expenditures like state payroll records and contracts. According to a report from the Chicago Tribune, representatives from the policy group Reform Illinois say it can cause conflicts of interest and can increase the possibility of corruption. Pritzker’s Office has defended the investments saying that it’s the governor’s personal choice and is not a precedent for the governor’s office. Reform Illinois says that the boost in pay to top aides is the most problematic because it removes the case that aides work for the state government and not for an individual’s interest.

Pritzker has also spent $5 million on a ballot initiative committee supporting a constitutional amendment on a graduated-rate income tax. Pritzker has also made direct payments for upgrades at the Hayes House governor’s residence in downstate DuQuoin and offices in the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago and at the Illinois State Capitol. He also spent $50,000 prior to taking office to help the Department of Child and Family Services create a nationwide search for a new director, all of this according to requested documents by the Tribune.

Forbes Magazine puts Pritzker’s personal fortune at $3.4 billion as the heir to the Hyatt hotel chain.