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Kennedy on Pritzker/Blagojevich FBI tapes: “Completely sick behavior”

Sunday, Jun 4, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

[Comments are now open on this post.]

* You really should listen to all of Rick Pearson’s “Sunday Spin” interview with Chris Kennedy. It’s by far the toughest language Kennedy has ever used against JB Pritzker

I see government as something that can help others, can invest in the economy and can provide our kids great schools our communities great protection with police and fire. That’s what I believe about government.

You see a guy like JB Pritzker, they catch him on tape, and he’s talking about maybe swapping money for an appointment with Gov. Blagojevich. And he’s using insider language. He’s using code words like ‘I hear ya, I hear ya.’

I mean, anybody who’s ever watched ‘Goodfellas’ or one of those mob movies knows that they’re not gonna come out and say ‘If you give me this and I’ll give you that,’ they use code language. And that’s part of it.

* From the leaked FBI tapes

“Which, incidentally, if you can do for me what you did for [Lisa Madigan], before the end of the year. Can you think about that?” Blagojevich asked, aware that Pritzker had donated $50,000 to Madigan during the previous year.

“I can’t, I mean, not while everything’s up in the air, but I hear ya,” Pritzker said. “I hear ya and, and, and … But anyway …”

* Back to Chris Kennedy

But that’s not the sick thing of all of that. The sick thing is when he laughs at his sister’s failure. When his sisters’ bank, Blagojevich makes fun of his sister’s bank going down and he laughs about that.

Look, I have eleven brothers and sisters, my wife is one of five. She has 31 cousins, I have more than 50. We see everything through that lens. We see ourselves as a family, a big American family and we’re going to treat everybody as though they’re part of our family, too. And when you’re part of somebody’s family you don’t laugh at their failure.

* Back to the leaked FBI tapes

Both laughed.

“What happened to her bank?” Blagojevich asked. “Did it collapse or something?”

“Yeah, she was chairman of the bank,” Pritzker said. “It had subprime loans. I mean bad stuff.”

“Superior Bank turned out to be an inferior bank,” the governor remarked.

“Inferior. Exactly, exactly. Very good,” Pritzker said. “I like that. Inferior Bank. I haven’t thought about that. That’s a good one.”

* Kennedy

And then to double down and make it worse. Not only is he laughing at his sister, he’s laughing at the fact that that bank failed because they made subprime loans to poor people in places like Chicago, to buy houses they couldn’t afford, that they ended up losing, that mark our city today, years later, destroying not only that house that’s now vacant and abandoned, but the entire block, so that people move away, and then they close the local school and now the entire neighborhood’s circling the drain, and he and Blagojevich think that that’s funny. And no one who thinks that that’s stuff’s funny deserves to be the governor of the state of Illinois.


Chicago Magazine described the bank’s “aggressive” business strategy as “making high-interest home and auto loans to people with bad credit.”

* Kennedy

I think there’s something inherently unpredictable about billionaires, frankly. I think that when you don’t have customers, when you don’t have clients, when you’ve never worked for someone else, when you’ve never had to report, you become careless. And you might become careless in the sense that you pass bad checks so often you finally get arrested for it. But you can hire a lawyer to clean up that mess.

You can laugh at other peoples’ failures because it doesn’t impact you. Who thought anything was funny about the 2007, 8, 9 period in America? Who laughed during that period about anything? And now they’re laughing at that, they’re laughing at us. And that’s completely sick behavior.

You can find an explanation for the Pritzker “pass bad checks so often you finally get arrested for it” reference by clicking here.

* Kennedy was then asked about his own wealth

I’m a person of means, but I’m not a mean person. Our parents taught us to be part of a family, to treat each other well, and to look after each other. And that’s what we need in our party more than anything else.

* But what about the danger of dividing the party when the object is supposed to be to defeat Bruce Rauner?

You know, with some wisdom, the primary was set in March, months and months and months before the November general election. That allows our party… time to heal the wounds, to come together, to create a unified message that we can all agree on and then go to battle with the other party… So, I think there’s plenty of time next year to heal the wounds. […]

It’s totally possible to have an enormous fight with your own family and then come together as one against everybody else, and that’s what we should do.

* From the Tribune’s story on the interview

Pritzker responded with a statement that condemned Kennedy for attacking his family, saying he “expected my opponents to throw everything at me during the course of this campaign.”

But, Pritzker said, “I certainly didn’t expect Chris Kennedy, who knows more than anyone what it’s like to grow up with your family in the public limelight, to attack me and my family. I’m running for governor on my life’s work in business and the community, not my family’s, and I hope that Chris would begin to do the same.”

Um, I didn’t see any attack by Kennedy on Pritzker’s family. All I saw was Pritzker’s attack on his sister’s bank.


  1. - Responsa - Monday, Jun 5, 17 @ 9:12 am:

    Pritzker’s Democratic opponents have a lot to work with here. It will be interesting to see how practically and effectively they (both as a group and individually) decide to use it. I admit I am fascinated by the possibilities. With JB, his money was always going to be his biggest asset but also a major potential vulnerability. Adding toxic Blago into the mix like this is just almost unbelievable and JB’s own words will necessitate major damage control efforts.

  2. - Behind the Scenes - Monday, Jun 5, 17 @ 9:12 am:

    The Battle of the Billionaires is shaping up.

  3. - LizPhairTax - Monday, Jun 5, 17 @ 9:14 am:

    This is JB’s George Ryan polka

  4. - BigDoggie - Monday, Jun 5, 17 @ 9:18 am:

    Illinois turning into a big mega-rich-guy scrum.

  5. - Quiet Sage - Monday, Jun 5, 17 @ 9:20 am:

    This is devastating for Pritzker. I see Kennedy now as the big favorite. Pawar is still interesting, but this is not the right time for a Sanders-style insurgency in Illinois.

  6. - Last Bull Moose - Monday, Jun 5, 17 @ 9:21 am:

    Kennedy is making points against Pritzker that Rauner will have trouble using effectively. And most of the harm comes from Pritzker’s own words. That is clever.

  7. - Northsider - Monday, Jun 5, 17 @ 9:23 am:

    Methinks Pritzker doth protest too much. His reaction reveals just how hard Kennedy’s punch landed.

  8. - City Zen - Monday, Jun 5, 17 @ 9:28 am:

    ==Look, I have eleven brothers and sisters, my wife is one of five. She has 31 cousins, I have more than 50.==

    Time to play Six Degrees of Chris Kennedy.

  9. - Amalia - Monday, Jun 5, 17 @ 9:52 am:

    wow, that’s really rich. JB is attacking his sister, but now he uses the family as a shield. Sure she will come to his defense, maybe, but in private JB trashes her and calls it attacking his family when Kennedy calls him out on it. yeah, right.

  10. - Arsenal - Monday, Jun 5, 17 @ 9:58 am:

    That “I’m a man of means, but not mean” line is pretty good, though the rest of the attack is pretty over the top.

    But he’s right that we don’t need to wring our hands about primary attacks so much. It’ll be good for everyone to have this out.

  11. - WSJ Paywall - Monday, Jun 5, 17 @ 10:01 am:

    =Pawar is still interesting, but this is not the right time for a Sanders-style insurgency in Illinois.=

    If not now, then when?

    Hopefully, Kennedy and Pritzker will take each other out and give Pawar and/or Biss some space to gain some ground.

  12. - Flip357 - Monday, Jun 5, 17 @ 10:12 am:

    Do none of these fools remember the 2010 GOP primary that cost the Republicans the governorship?

  13. - 47th Ward - Monday, Jun 5, 17 @ 10:23 am:

    ===he’s laughing at the fact that that bank failed because they made subprime loans to poor people in places like Chicago, to buy houses they couldn’t afford, that they ended up losing, that mark our city today, years later, destroying not only that house that’s now vacant and abandoned, but the entire block, so that people move away, and then they close the local school and now the entire neighborhood’s circling the drain,…===

    J.B. jokingly dismissed “banking experience” as not something he would highlight if named Treasurer. Superior Bank/Inferior Bank, yeah, he said it and laughed when Rod said it.

    But thanks, Kennedy, for dredging up the whole “ruined neighborboods” bit and laying that entirely at the feet of Penny Pritzker’s bank. If that’s not attacking Pritzker’s family, we need to redefine what attacking a family is.

    The Democrats need to stop doing Rauner’s work for him. It’ll get ugly enough without fratricide. Let’s keep the focus on the failed governor please.

  14. - lake county democrat - Monday, Jun 5, 17 @ 10:33 am:

    47th touches on the first thought I always have with these kinds of stories: two well funded Dems trash each other (Dixon/Pritzker; Hofeld/Kennedy), a third candidate slips in (Mosley Braun/Biss), and the GOP wins.

    I know everybody loves Pritker’s deep pockets, but zeesh - African-American leaders seem cool to him, he’s shown in the past he’s more a mercenary than deeply committed to the party, he wasn’t even competitive against Jan Schakowsky… and now all this? Kennedy just strikes me as a “feel good” candidate - Pritzker looks like he’s always being playing defense.

    Think about that: always playing defense in a race against Bruce Rauner!

  15. - lake county democrat - Monday, Jun 5, 17 @ 10:35 am:

    WSJ - Neither of those two candidates strike me as very competitive statewide. They won’t attract donors and they can’t self-fund.

  16. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jun 5, 17 @ 10:48 am:

    To the Post,

    After days of letting fester the unearthing of tapes of s conversation Pritzker had to have know he had, with Rod, during a time that both had to “figure” Rod was under serious scrutiny (at least!), I see a Pritzker Crew that isn’t folding or hurting themselves… I see something far worse when it comes to Campaign Comms…

    .., Others defining the negative narrative while the campaign says or does nothing that can be construed as damage control.

    I don’t blame Kennedy, even as I stated, multiple times, that Dems really need to go after Rauner until state fair.

    Here’s why; Silence.

    Two responses, one mediocre, the other “better”, neither took the issue on to frame with Pritzker’s ridiculous wealth. What made Rauner so untouchable was the facing of oppo dumps and attacking the information in such a way that the pivot off the attack to attack… Quinn… Dillard, Rutherford, Brady… that swamped “going after a female executive” and her family, the nursing homes… all the oppo that could damage, that was taken to and swamped.

    I know how I would’ve answered this revelation. No matter what I think, in practicality, it’s better than what Pritzker’s Crew has done.

    So, Kennedy should make hay, should take it to Pritzker, should be as harsh as that Crew deems, because Pritzker has refused to break this all down, chop it up, and go on the offensive.

    There are some outs, but so far Pritzker’s Crew and Comm Shop either are too naive to see them, or see them and don’t have the steps necessary in their thoughts to work the outs to “move on”. So, Kennedy should go after where Pritzker refuses to rehabilitate and take control of again… the message…

    … and “whew!”, Kennedy took it to Pritzker and that Crew… because he could… and still can.

  17. - Juice - Monday, Jun 5, 17 @ 11:03 am:

    lcd, umm…Mosley-Braun won.

  18. - Molly Maguire - Monday, Jun 5, 17 @ 11:07 am:

    If I thought Kennedy had what it took to win himself, this wouldn’t be so bad. But I don’t. So just Demicide.

  19. - lake county democrat - Monday, Jun 5, 17 @ 11:12 am:

    Juice - Yes, because the Republicans had basically ceded the senate before the primaries. Rauner is not Richardson. If you really have confidence that Biss or Pawar can beat Rauner then there’s no need for concern, but I think Rauner would relish having to face either one.

  20. - DuPage Bard - Monday, Jun 5, 17 @ 11:17 am:

    Have yet to see Pritzker hit anyone else but Rauner. Interesting that Pritzker keeps hitting Bruce for failing and the other Dems keep hitting him.
    Maybe the other Dem candidates should turn up the heat on Bruce until there’s a budget?
    As many have said before the Rauner team is winning the messaging war. Now, even with all the ammo, the Dems are messaging against each other instead of Rauner?

  21. - W Flag - Monday, Jun 5, 17 @ 11:30 am:

    It is mind boggling that Pritzker conducted opposition research on himself and he and his brain trust thought that they could manage the Blagojevich issues so that it would not hamper their campaign.

    If the responses offered so far are all that Pritzker can manage, he is damaged goods and he can line up behind Blair Hull and Jack Ryan.

  22. - Responsa - Monday, Jun 5, 17 @ 11:32 am:

    In thinking further on this explosive Blago/Pritzker situation I think there is another point to be made. And that is that Kennedy seems to be in control of, and deciding on and managing his own messaging to a significant degree rather than relying on his “crew” to come up with something. Where is JB Pritzker, and who, really, is in charge of his campaign? Is there actually a decision maker that one can point to or is the lack of one perhaps part of the problem?

  23. - Almost the Weekend - Monday, Jun 5, 17 @ 11:36 am:

    Daniel Biss is the big winner of Kennedy’s attacks on JB.

    And how hard Kennedy is hitting JB on this, it makes me rethink that Rauner released that information. Especially considering how the Tribune gave him the headline “How Rauner defeated a ax increase” or something similar to that the same day.

  24. - BuckinIrish - Monday, Jun 5, 17 @ 11:38 am:

    Can people stop getting so butt hurt every time a Dem trashes a Dem during this primary. These guys want to be the candidate for the party, and the most effective way to do that is to bring your opponents down, it’s the only way to get coverage. Yeah in a perfect world they would all attack Rauner and share their platform and we would weigh them all by those means alone but the world is based on factors like money and likability. Does anyone here really wish that the Pritzker oppo dumps wouldn’t go public till September or October of 18′.

  25. - austinman - Monday, Jun 5, 17 @ 11:54 am:

    cant wait for the Kennedy commercial to come out, JB can kiss the African American vote in the Chicago bye bye. I can see it now, a black family who loss their house who lived in Englewood/Austin/Roseland (pick a neighborhood with vacant boarded up homes) due to getting a loan from Superior Bank.

  26. - Rich Miller - Monday, Jun 5, 17 @ 11:55 am:

    ===it makes me rethink that Rauner released that information===

    Not sure what to think on this point. We do know that one of RRB’s defense lawyers is close to the current governor - and that’s a very possible leakage avenue. Not sure yet if any are close to Kennedy.

  27. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jun 5, 17 @ 12:05 pm:

    I don’t think (60/40 “no”) Kennedy dropped the dime, since it took a couple days to get this response out by Kennedy and choosing that forum to do so.

    It seems reactionary to the information and taking advantage of both the drop and the silence by Pritzker.

    Rauner has “shown” the hidden hand of oppo dumps is a preferred method of politics. If it can be masked as a Dem operative with a link also to Rauner “maybe”, that’s plausible deniability built in.

    If it turns out to be Robert Blagojevich that would be… well, I’ll leave it there. #Romantic

  28. - 'Goose - Monday, Jun 5, 17 @ 1:31 pm:

    C’mon Austinman

    much more voter density in Gresham, Chatham, and South Shore ;)

  29. - Red fish blue fish - Monday, Jun 5, 17 @ 4:21 pm:

    ====Look, I have eleven brothers and sisters, my wife is one of five. She has 31 cousins, I have more than 50. We see everything through that lens. We see ourselves as a family, a big American family and we’re going to treat everybody as though they’re part of our family, too. =======

    Props to Kennedy for connecting his fierce loyalty and compassion to his family with a similar approach to policy and governance. The message is strong, relatable, and most importantly, it’s uplifting.

  30. - Boone's is back - Monday, Jun 5, 17 @ 4:27 pm:

    So Kennedy is trying to equate JB w/ Trump. Good luck on that reach…

  31. - Molly Maguire - Monday, Jun 5, 17 @ 5:19 pm:

    The Kennedy interpretation of JB agreeing to the quid pro quo is quite a stretch, and his language is way over the top with the mafia references and use of mental health keywords such as “sick” (this does not bode well for a campaign). I see JB not wanting to talk about it or do it, but trying to humor Blago. Same with the rest of it: “yeah, yeah, whatever you say.”

  32. - That's Saying Something - Monday, Jun 5, 17 @ 7:52 pm:

    I’m a Dem voter and I haven’t been impressed with Kennedy or his campaign despite his dad being a hero of mine. But Kennedy’s comments, in addition to the opp dump post later today about JBP, make me much more inclined to support Kennedy.
    We all know MJM and DPI want Prizker to win the nomination so they can save money they’d otherwise spend on the Dem governor nominee. But just the oppo dumps on JBK I’ve seen so far lead me to believe there’s a lot worse out there which Rauner and the GOP will get out.
    Pritzker could be the one guy who could lose to Rauner even in next year’s anti-Trump election year!

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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