* My weekly syndicated newspaper column…
Last year, billionaire Democrat JB Pritzker derided Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for not releasing detailed income tax filings.
“The question is who his investors are, and whether there are any in China or Russia that are affecting his personal income,” Pritzker said of Trump, adding that the future president was “obfuscating in order to avoid being discovered as a liar.”
And then last week, Pritzker released only the first two pages of his income tax returns going back three years. Pritzker told reporters for weeks that he hadn’t released the returns sooner because the task was so “complex.” Um, two pages ain’t “complex.”
Pritzker’s real income appears to come from various private trust funds. He disclosed last week that his trusts paid $25 million in state taxes and $129 million in federal taxes between 2014 and 2016. Pritzker’s personal income taxes were a tiny fraction of that amount. During the same time period, he revealed that he paid only $636,000 in state income taxes and $7.7 million in federal income taxes on his personal income.
He refused to divulge the tax returns for those trusts (which really would be “complex”) because, his campaign claimed, other members of his extended family also benefit from those trusts. OK, fine. But how about divulging the names of his trusts? Tracking down these trusts is a difficult business because they’re shrouded in such secrecy. Names would help.
When a politician refuses to divulge something, particularly after criticizing others for not doing so, you gotta wonder what that person is hiding.
The Pritzker family all but invented off-shore trusts. “No family in the U.S. can copy the Pritzkers in using offshore entities to gain tax advantages,” claimed Forbes magazine back in 2003.
In an attempt to pry Pritzker’s information loose, I reached out to Chris Kennedy’s gubernatorial campaign and asked if they would release the names of the trust funds Kennedy benefits from. They did.
George Skakel was Kennedy’s maternal grandfather. He was from Chicago and founded the fabulously successful Great Lakes Carbon Corporation.
But Kennedy’s a pauper when compared to Pritzker. As mentioned above, Pritzker’s paternal grandfather was a pioneer in using trusts to avoid taxation. Pritzker “took the family fortune from $250,000 in the 1920s to an estimated $2 billion at his death in 1986,” according to Forbes. But when he died in 1986, his heirs told the IRS that AN’s net worth was a mere $25,000. The feds didn’t buy it and the Pritzker family ended up paying the government $9.5 million plus interest nine years later, Forbes reported.
JB Pritzker’s sister Penny, who served as President Barack Obama’s Secretary of Commerce, is mentioned in the so-called “Paradise Papers,” a massive ongoing research project into the uber-wealthy and mega-corporations conducted by journalists all over the world. Ms. Pritzker transferred shares from two Bermuda companies to a company owned by trusts that benefit her children after she was confirmed for the Cabinet post. Her family’s myriad offshore trusts were a big issue during her confirmation hearing.
Alas, Kennedy’s decision to reveal his trust funds’ names did not move the Pritzker campaign one iota closer to disclosing the names of Pritzker’s trusts.
This ain’t over.
* Press release…
Today, Daniel Biss released a new video, “Trust,” in which J.B. Pritzker holds Donald Trump to a standard that he himself is unwilling to meet.
“The fact that Donald Trump has not released his tax returns…is an abomination. And we shouldn’t have candidates who don’t.”
Watch the video, “Trust”
“You shouldn’t have anybody on the ballot that’s running for governor, who doesn’t release their taxes,” declares Pritzker on camera.
Pritzker has been consistent in criticism of Donald Trump’s failure to release his taxes to the public. “The question is who his investors are,” said Pritzker in an Associated Press interview in July 2016. “He is obfuscating in order to avoid being discovered as a liar.”
“We have the same questions for Pritzker that he had for Trump,” says Biss spokesman Tom Elliott. “He hasn’t disclosed his income from his private trusts, or even their names, so we have no idea how much he’s making and who’s paying him. All we know is that he says he paid $125 million in taxes on his trust income. What could he be hiding?”
*** UPDATE *** Rauner campaign…
Pritzker continues to say one thing to Illinois voters while doing something completely different.
After seven months of delaying release of his tax returns, Pritzker finally released the first two pages containing information on his income.
Though he has often toted his ‘transparency,’ Pritzker refused to release even the names of the private trusts from which he draws the majority of his income.
His hypocrisy is stunning, but is just yet another example of this continued behavior. Just last week it was revealed that his investments directly contradict statements he provided to the Sierra Club at a candidates environmental forum.
Meanwhile, Bruce Rauner has fought for working families in Illinois. Governor Rauner is leading the fight against Madigan’s corrupt system with a reform plan that includes term limits, rolling back the Madigan income tax hike, and provide real and lasting property tax relief. Madigan has built a corrupt system over 40 years, and Governor Rauner is fighting to give power back to the people.
While Pritzker continues to deceive the people of Illinois, Governor Rauner works incessantly on their behalf.
* ILGOP press release…
After over 200 days of delay, J.B. Pritzker released a portion of his income tax returns, but his disclosed tax records raise more questions than answers.
Pritzker’s tax returns revealed that the vast majority of his income comes from inherited family trusts, not from salary income, business investments, or interest. Between 2014 and 2016, Pritzker paid $8.236 million in taxes on $29.6 million of declared personal income.
Those taxes pale in comparison to the income Pritzker derived from his inherited family trusts. During that same time period, Pritzker paid $128.97 million in federal taxes and $24.95 million in Illinois taxes on those trusts.
Unlike his opponent Chris Kennedy, why has Pritzker refused to answer questions on his family trusts?
Years of investigation and inquiry have revealed that the Pritzker family famously utilized trusts to protect their wealth from taxes and IRS scrutiny.
It’s clear - J.B. Pritzker is obfuscating on income derived from his inherited family trusts because he’s trying to hide the fact that he’s been avoiding taxes for years.
J.B. Pritzker’s campaign for governor is reaching the height of hypocrisy. Pritzker is advocating for yet another income tax hike on middle class families while cutting corrupt deals to slash his property taxes and using trusts to avoid taxes.
As Rich Miller said about J.B. Pritzker’s use of family trusts in his weekly column, “This ain’t over.”
* Fact Check: Do Pritzker and Kennedy Have a Tax Transparency Gap?