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