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Berrios claim rated “Mostly False”

Tuesday, Jan 2, 2018

* Politifact Illinois looks at a claim being made by Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios’ campaign

In a recent cable TV ad, Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios accused his Democratic primary opponent, Fritz Kaegi, of profiting from the private prison industry during his tenure as an investment analyst at Columbia Wanger Asset Management.

“Kaegi personally managed a fund that invested nearly $30 million in private prisons,” the ad stated. “Prisons where women refused food to protest abusive guards, immigrant children as young as 5 were held and detainees died suspiciously. But Kaegi only saw profits.” Berrios also aired a similarly worded radio ad. […]

Kaegi spent 13 years as an investment manager at Columbia Wanger Asset Management, where he oversaw the Columbia Acorn Fund with two other analysts. He gave up management duties of the fund and left Columbia Wanger on March 13 to begin his campaign. […]

Columbia Acorn Fund, of which Fritz Kaegi was one of three managers, reported $29.1 million in stock of the private prison operator CoreCivic on its March 31, 2017, quarterly report.

But Kaegi’s active management of the fund ended March 13, as documented in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. Kaegi said the CoreCivic investment came after he was gone, and points to two years of quarterly reports and a Feb. 28 holdings summary to back his point.

We were unable to confirm from Kaegi’s co-managers, but a scenario in which Kaegi during his final two weeks as a fund manager decides to invest in a controversial private prison stock as a last act before challenging an opponent in a Democratic primary in Cook County borders on absurd.

Berrios’ statement contains an element of truth — the quarterly report on March 31 shows a $29.1 million investment in CoreCivic. But it ignores the critical fact that Kaegi didn’t manage the fund as of March 14 and that as recently Feb. 28 CoreCivic was not part of the portfolio. We rate it Mostly False.

…Adding… ILGOP…

2018 brings a new year, and J.B. Pritzker is hoping that taxpayers will forget about his corrupt ally, Cook County Assessor and Democratic party boss Joe Berrios.

For years, Berrios has faced accusations of nepotism, patronage, and corruption in his assessor’s office, costing homeowners dearly, particularly those in low-income minority communities.

Just last year, the Chicago Tribune and ProPublica Illinois released a multi-part report shedding light on the corrupt practices of Berrios and how he has rigged the Cook County property tax system to benefit his political cronies at everyone else’s expense. And weeks ago, Berrios faced renewed questions of patronage in his office.

But J.B. Pritzker doesn’t want to talk about his ally Joe Berrios because Pritzker is an integral part of Berrios’ and Madigan’s corrupt property tax racket.

When will Pritzker break his silence on Berrios?

* Related…

* Tribune Editorial: Berrios and ‘The Silence of the Dems’

- Posted by Rich Miller        

7 Comments
  1. - Lucky Pierre - Tuesday, Jan 2, 18 @ 10:59 am:

    Speaker Madigan and the rest of the Cook County machine Politicians working “cooperatively and professionally” to raise the wages and standard of living of Democratic special interests at the expense of the poor and middle class


  2. - anon2 - Tuesday, Jan 2, 18 @ 11:17 am:

    It would’ve been better for his party had Berrios stuck to his previous plan to retire after this term rather than to run again. When the most critical thing he can say about his opponent is untrue, that suggests the opponent is pretty clean.


  3. - Colin O'Scopey - Tuesday, Jan 2, 18 @ 11:33 am:

    I love the old political saying “you can’t beat a ’somebody’ with a ‘nobody’”. I think this race might prove that axiom wrong this year.

    Fritz Kaegi just might have enough dough, coupled with vote disenfranchisement to unseat Berrios.


  4. - Honeybadger - Tuesday, Jan 2, 18 @ 11:59 am:

    It really is too bad, that long-time, entrenched politicians just don’t know when to retire. All the good one might have accomplished over a career, seems to go right out the window. I often wonder, how much is enough for some of these people? Good benefits, pay and a pension to boot. Jobs for family and friends and yet, they seem to want more, not need, but want more.


  5. - Fax Machine - Tuesday, Jan 2, 18 @ 12:01 pm:

    Berrios could retire and be just fine but he has so many friends and family who are depending on his re-election for their continued employment. He’s running for them (plus I think being Assessor & Party chairman is fun for Berrios)


  6. - Thomas Paine - Tuesday, Jan 2, 18 @ 5:57 pm:

    I am gonna take the Under bet, Politifact.

    If Kaegi didn’t okay the purchase, he would have released the proof by now.


  7. - Rabid - Wednesday, Jan 3, 18 @ 8:46 am:

    ILGOP when is your govenors primary debate, will you break your silence or is the primary rigged for Rauner


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


* Reader comments closed until Tuesday
* *** UPDATED x1 *** Tribune asked 16 mayoral candidates to release tax returns, 6 complied
* A rough idea of what they're looking at
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* Rauner was wrong about "record levels" of unionization
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY: Stava-Murray updates
* Pritzker's inauguration ball tix will benefit Cabrini Green Legal Aid Clinic and Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation
* Rauner claims he's been too busy to reflect on his term
* Pritzker's day in DC
* *** UPDATED x3 - Morrison wants emergency meeting of ILGOP - McConnaughay explains - Schneider responds *** Rauner says he tried to drop out of race after primary
* Feds re-raid Ald. Burke's office
* *** LIVE COVERAGE ***
* Yesterday's stories

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