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Illinois 2018 Primary Campaign Notebook 4: The Plutocratic Pol

"Here's an issue on which rich Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner and J.B. Pritzker - by far the wealthiest of the Democrats aiming to unseat Rauner next year - find common ground," Dan Mihalopoulos reported for the Sun-Times last fall.

"Both Rauner and Pritzker are fans of a state tax-credit program for rich investors in startup companies in Illinois.

In fact, Pritzker is more than just a supporter of the program - the venture capitalist has profited handsomely from it.

Pritzker's companies have gotten tax credits worth more than $1.9 million over four years through the Illinois Angel Investment Tax Credit program, records show.

As he did when his big property-tax breaks were revealed earlier this year, Pritzker says he's merely availed himself of what the law offers him.

And who writes those laws - and at the behest (and campaign contributions) of whom?

"It diminished a little bit of a very high risk," Pritzker says of the tax credits his companies got.

Great. The taxpayers diminished your risk. Are you really good with that? Because that tells us a lot about what's in your heart.

Pritzker says it's a fair deal for the rest of the state's taxpayers - especially given that an estimated 85 percent of the startup companies supported by the program's participants will fail.

Two of the companies Pritzker says he invested in through the tax-credit program - Signal marketing company and SpotHero, a parking-reservation service - are now thriving, with hundreds of employees in Chicago.

Of Signal, Pritzker says, "I took the chance of investing in them when nobody else had."

And, at the time he invested in SpotHero, he says, "They had nothing - no product, no revenue."

He wouldn't go so far as to say he wouldn't have invested in those companies if not for the state tax credits, saying only that the program factored into his decisions.

"I think it's good public policy to have those incentives there," Pritzker says.

Except it's obvious that Pritzker didn't need to be incentivized by taxpayers' hard-earned dollars to be persuaded to invest. in SpotHero and Signal. That's horrible public policy.

Under the state angel investor program, four Pritzker businesses got a total of more than $1.2 million in tax credits in 2012. He got more state tax credits in 2013, 2014 and 2015, when two of his companies claimed a total of more than $537,000 in credits.

That's nothing to JB, but a lot of money to the rest of us.

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Separately, from the Trib:

"Asked why Pritzker paid no Illinois income tax in 2014, Slayen said the candidate 'made personal venture capital investments in Illinois companies, which qualified him for angel investment tax credits.'"

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And then, of course, there was this one:

In May, Sun-Times reporter Tim Novak reported that Pritzker had saved nearly $230,000 on his property taxes by arguing that a Gold Coast mansion he bought for $3.7 million, began to renovate and then halted the work was "uninhabitable."

Hey, he was only availing himself of what the law offered!

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Pritzker is the Establishment's candidate, and I must say I've been wrong in asserting that was only because of his checkbook. It's also because he can be counted on not to rock the boat.

When you refuse to criticize Joe Berrios, much less endorse a challenger, you are truly Mike Madigan's and Ed Burke's guy.

"I'm not revealing who I voted for or who I'm supporting in that race," Pritzker said, in the campaign's final debate.

W. T. Actual. F.

"Oh my gosh," Chris Kennedy exclaimed in a truly genuine moment. " If you can't take a position on whether Joe Berrios should be re-elected . . . you shouldn't be the governor of the state of Illinois."

Agreed. Case closed.

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Pritzker: "I don't think we should be getting involved in Democratic primaries - we're running one ourselves."

We should just get involved in Republican primaries!

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But seriously, Pritzker can't possibly mean he hasn't or won't and shouldn't ever pick sides in a Democratic primary. That's such a disingenuous punt.

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Reminder about Berrios: Nepotism. Ethics. Campaign finance. Dirty tricks. Oh, and generally being a piece of shit.

Game over, in my book.

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I guess this claim isn't ludicrous enough for his pants to be on fire, but they're awfully warm.

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Not to be underappreciated: Pritzker is building a machine by spreading his dollars around to various Democratic organizations, including the campaign committees of amenable Chicago aldermen. He is poised to essentially become the state party leader, officially or not.

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Social. Impact. Bonds.

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I don't remember Pritzker coming out against Rahm closing 50 schools. Did I miss that?

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Disclosure: I knew JB just a smidgen back in the day when we both regularly attended a monthly lunch of political types at Gene & Georgetti's. Just based on my interactions there, I found JB to be a pretty likable guy, but who knows. I also met him for lunch once and we discussed the possibility of him helping to finance this site. That never happened, of course, but I thought I should mention it. (He encouraged me to add sections that would attract luxury advertisers, like travel, which wasn't really in line with my vision of the site or my business plan - not that I would have necessarily rejected his money. I figured if I got money from him I would then seek out a rich Republican to also contribute in order to balance out potential accusations of a resulting political slant. It turned out I never had to worry about that because the whole thing just fizzled out.)

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See also:

* Illinois 2018 Primary Campaign Notebook 1: MAGA, Mendacity & Moby Mike.

* Illinois 2018 Primary Campaign Notebook 2: Chris Kennedy's Confusing Campaign.

* Illinois 2018 Primary Campaign Notebook 3: Who Is Biss? Pensions, Passes & Pussy Riot.

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on March 19, 2018


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