Democratic gubernatorial candidate for Illinois JB Pritzker has been accused of removing toilets from his house as part of a tax fraud scheme.
Pritzker has effectively admitted to the charges, and has offered to repay Cook County the over $330,000 in refunds and tax savings he received.
JB Pritzker plays a game of thrones
Just ten days before the property was due to be assessed for taxes, toilets were removed from a 6,387 square foot home in Chicago’s exclusive Gold Coast neighbourhood owned by JB Pritzker. After Pritzker argued that the house had “fallen into disrepair,” the assessed value of the property was cut by Cook County surveyors from $6.25 million to just over $1 million.
According to a leaked report issued by Cook County Inspector General Patrick Blanchard on September 28th, Pritzker engaged in a “scheme to defraud,” to the tune of $331,432.03.
“The County ultimately fell victim to a scheme to defraud,” the report read, “executed in part through the use of affidavits, and which resulted in the property owner ultimately receiving property tax refunds totaling $132,747.18 for the years 2012, 2013 and 2014, as well as additional tax savings of $198,684.85 for the years 2015 and 2016.”
JB Pritzker offers to repay $330K
After a day of mounting bad headlines (replete with plenty of toilet humor), JB Pritzker finally realized he had been caught short by toilet-gate and backed down. After initially waffling about what steps he would take, his campaign on Tuesday pledged that the candidate would repay the money.
The commitment to repay the money failed to stifle criticism, however. The campaign of Pritzker’s Republican opponent, Bruce Rauner, argued that the offer to repay was in effect a confession by the Democrat.
“A bank robber who gives the money back is still a bank robber,” a campaign spokesperson said. “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.”
The scandal has also provoked a very strong response from another Republican, State Senator Jeanne Ives. Ives ran for governor herself before losing a close race to Ranaur in the primary, but now she is focusing her ire on Pritzker. She is asking the Illinois Department of Revenue to investigate the assessments of Pritzker’s other properties.
“This is a personal failure of him, his wife, his contractors, the people he employs to actually steal,” she said.
Death or taxes?
Meanwhile Ranaur is facing a scandal of his own. Questions have been surfacing recently about the Governor’s handling of an outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease at the Illinois Veterans Home.
“This was a cover-up all along,” Pritzker said during a two-way debate last week. “Remember that Gov. Ranaur knew about this, his administration knew about it, days went by without notifying people. People got sick as a result of that.”
How Illinois voters react to the mounting Republican and Democrat scandals could still easily decide the race. A poll from the Paul Simon Institute at Southern Illinois University published in late September gave JB Pritzker a strong lead with 49%, compared to Ranaur’s 27%. But with 17% undecided, Ranaur could still close the gap.
That is unless the undecided are attracted by Conservative Sam McCann or Libertarian Kash Jackson, both currently on 4%.