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AG candidates respond to Pritzker race controversy

Friday, Feb 9, 2018

* I asked all attorney general campaigns in both major parties this question yesterday…

What is your candidate’s reaction to FBI wiretaps of JB Pritzker’s discussion with then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich about potential African-American US Senate appointees?

I asked them this because I hadn’t seen many of them asked about it and, frankly, I was curious what they had to say.

* Their deadline was 11 this morning. All candidates except Rep. Scott Drury provided an answer (I even reminded Drury about it this morning). ADDING: Drury says he was out shoveling snow and missed the deadline. I’ve granted him a one-time, weather-related extension.

Responses are in the order they were received. Mayor Nancy Rotering…

“There’s no place for this kind of commentary. I was surprised and saddened to hear JB’s comments but appreciate his commitment to ‘doing better.’ Now more than ever, we need a leader who prioritizes inclusive government, making sure all voices are heard, and that civil rights are supported and respected.”

* Gov. Pat Quinn…

“I’m very disappointed in JB Pritzker’s comments. I know Senate President Emil Jones very well, and he has been a drum major for justice during his entire public life.

“In our democracy, everyone has the duty to promote a more perfect union in word and deed. The Governor of Illinois and every aspirant for Governor must treat every single person with civility and respect at all times.

“As President Barack Obama said in his Farewell Address in Chicago on January 10, 2017, ‘Democracy does require a basic sense of solidarity — the idea that for all our outward differences, we are all in this together; that we rise or fall as one.’”

* Renato Mariotti…

“Pritzker’s comments were disappointing and disrespectful, and he was right to apologize for them. One problem with Illinois politics is that insiders decide the future of our state and party in private phone calls amongst themselves. We should have more decisions made by people, not by insiders and billionaires.”

* Gary Grasso…

“This is another example of typical Cook County Democratic insider politics, the type that destroys people’s lives and property values. This behavior and lack of leadership must end for Illinois for prosper again.”

* Jesse Ruiz…

“In his apology, JB said the conversation caught on tape did not reflect his “best self” and I agree with that assessment. Those comments certainly don’t reflect the guy I’ve gotten to know over the past 23 years. I think his work in the African American and Latino communities, especially on behalf of children, speaks far louder about who he is.”

* Erika Harold…

“The released FBI recorded conversations between J.B. Pritzker and Governor Blagojevich are yet another example of why Illinoisans have lost faith in our state government. Government cannot be for sale and government officials and candidates for office cannot marginalize groups of Illinoisans whether they believe anyone is listening or not. I am running for Attorney General to be a voice for the people and not the powerful political class.”

* Aaron Goldstein…

The JB Pritzker recording is a sad reflection of our politics. The African-American community is not taken seriously by politicians except when election time comes, because the Democratic Party only sees African-Americans as a means to political victory. But when it’s time to stand up for justice, the Party cowers. This happens all the time and this conversation is just a reflection of what happens every day. “Give us your vote” but when the election is over, the African-American community is abandoned. The political powers are so cynical that they believe that all that matters is having a certain number of African-Americans in power satisfies the needs of the community. We must look beyond this cynicism and focus on what all politicians will do for the African-American community.

I have spent my life and legal career fighting for the liberation of all African-Americans. Rarely is it a popular position but I do it because it is right. When my colleagues graduated law school and chased the money at corporate law firms, I worked for the Cook County Public Defender’s Office because I knew the criminal justice system was racist and I wanted to be on the front lines defending the victims of this racist system. As a candidate for attorney general, I am the only candidate who will obtain a consent decree against the Chicago Police Department and give the community enforcement power. I am the only candidate who will form a racial justice division within the office. I am the only candidate who will fight against this racist drug war and mass incarceration. All the other candidates refuse to attack the root causes of this unfair system. This entire campaign has been about fighting for racial justice for all of Illinois. I am fighting for racial justice because that is what I believe in publicly and privately.

As a Democratic Committeeman I strenuously objected to endorsing JB Pritzker for governor and advocated for an open primary to let democracy play out and let the people decide. I was overruled because the Party was overwhelmed with the money that Pritzker had. I was told that Pritzker “was the only one who could win.” Our democracy is flawed if we as a party believe we have to force a candidate down the voters’ throats. I unfortunately saw this in my race. Just a few weeks into the race for Attorney General, the Cook County Democratic Party, without vetting any candidates, and not believing in democracy, endorsed a seriously flawed candidate. I believed so much in the democratic process that I voted to not endorse any candidate.

* Sen. Kwame Raoul…

“The exchange between former Gov. Blagojevich and JB Pritzker was deeply disturbing. Unfortunately, this exchange is an unfiltered look at the conversations that take place daily about the black community without black voices in the room. Over the course of this campaign, I’ve asked Illinoisans to speak out against injustices being committed on their watch and JB failed to do that during his conversation with the former Governor.

“To his credit, JB personally called me to apologize and understood my unique perspective on this issue - not just as a black man who was appointed to fill an Obama vacancy but as someone who fought alongside Senate President Jones on behalf of the black community. During our conversation, JB expressed regret that he didn’t push back on the tone and substance of the exchange. He also acknowledged that he should have done more than simply laugh it off. His call was an appropriate gesture but in no way diminishes his actions.”

* Sharon Fairley…

“The content is deeply concerning and inappropriate. Negative campaigning is why so many Illinois voters don’t believe in our political system. Studies show that negative campaigning adversely impacts black voter turnout. We must bring back integrity, reform and transparency to Illinois government so that it works for everyone and not just the state’s powerful and elite. As a black woman running to be the people’s lawyer I find all of it very insulting.”

…Adding… Scott Drury…

Mr. Pritzker’s comments were disturbing and disrespectful, and I’m glad that he has publicly apologized. However, this conversation — and these tapes — show the ugly side of Illinois politics. Mr. Pritzker’s conversation was caught on tape, but how many similar conversations between other insiders take place on a regular basis without any repercussions? We all know the answer to that — a whole lot. This recording is a real-life example of why so many people in Illinois don’t trust politicians. The tone is set at the top. As we saw with the #MeToo movement in the Capitol, those at the top largely turn a blind eye to issues like these until they get caught.

Your thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - @misterjayem - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 11:30 am:

    “All candidates except Rep. Scott Drury provided an answer (I even reminded Drury about it this morning).”

    Drury referred Capitol Fax to an unrelated answer that he had filed previously.

    – MrJM

  2. - Honeybadger - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 11:30 am:

    JB apologized and I felt he was sincere. Give him a chance to prove himself. We all deserve second chances.

  3. - Blazerrr - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 11:41 am:

    Aw let’s all give JB a pat on the back. He’s been through so much.

  4. - Retired Educator - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 11:49 am:

    First off I am not sure a normal conversation was possible with the former Governor. He was a hustler, always trying to run the “Big Con”. Second Pritzker did offer an olive branch to those he may have offended. Third I would like to hear transcripts of some of these people’s conversations when they think no one is listening. It would be very educational. All the former politicos, and the want to be elected, need to move on.

  5. - wordslinger - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 11:53 am:

    –Drury says he was out shoveling snow and missed the deadline.–

    Meh, filing the proper paperwork and deadlines have nothing to do with running the AGs office.

    In other news, Drury just released his first campaign spot:

  6. - Iggy - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 11:54 am:

    But did JB really learn anything from this? When the tapes first broke him and his campaign manager were essentially making the argument that what he said wasnt that bad because he was still suggesting that Jessee White get a job.

    Then the tapes made their rounds and surprise surprise some African American democrats were offended. The JB team, totally caught off guard that they had experienced real blow back was forced to push their man out there to deliver what was essentially an empty apology.

    So i ask again, Did JB really learn something from this event? or did he just learn maybe I should be more careful about what I say because I never know who is listening?

  7. - cannon649 - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 11:59 am:

    I sure more tapes are coming .

    JB go away - we can do better

  8. - Sue - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 12:00 pm:

    Why are all of these people coming to JBs defense. There are clearly better candidates. If we haven’t learned yet that running the govt takes someone with experience then we deserve the worst. Biss is the only qualified candidate in the race in both parties

  9. - Nishi - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 12:06 pm:

    I heard an interview with Fairley on the 21st yesterday and was impressed. I can get behind her response here as well.

  10. - Anonymous - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 12:16 pm:

    Mr. Goldstein - BREVITY will win over loooonnnng and borrrring.

  11. - A guy - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 12:17 pm:

    So nice to hear JB’s seen the light, now that the recordings are public…Emil Jones has the perspective that he thought that then, and he likely thinks it now. He got caught.

    This won’t go away. Emil’s holding all the face cards.

  12. - GOP Truth Squad - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 12:19 pm:

    Aaron Goldstein, brevity is best.

  13. - Amalia - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 12:23 pm:

    newest JB commercial is about an exonerated man. what did JB do to assist? besides give money to the law school named after his family? this is a recurrent theme with JB. he gives money, therefore he “did” something about whatever subject. baloney.

  14. - Responsa - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 12:27 pm:

    Coming from both sides of the aisle Quinn’s and Harold’s comments were both appropriate and excellent responses to the JB situation.

  15. - West Side the Best Side - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 12:31 pm:

    OK, this is going to be a minority position, but the whole thing just seems like classic Cook County ethnic politics. You have to have a balanced ticket, so you have your Rostenkowskis and Pucinskis, Annunzios and Marzullos, Daleys and Cullertons, etc. And each ethnic group was probably ignored except for balancing the ticket time - yeah, the last group was the exception. Finally, and long overdue, the pols have added African Americans to the balance mix. That’s what that discussion was all about. And when you’re balancing the ticket, you want someone who not only fits the ethnic category, but can actually win, in this case a statewide race. Perhaps a less offensive word than “crass”, but how would Emil Jones do downstate? Jesse White is certainly someone and could then, and continues to be now, a viable statewide candidate. Integrity, reform and transparency have never been a part of slatemaking.

  16. - Rich Miller - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 12:46 pm:

    ===Aaron Goldstein, brevity is best. ===

    His campaign tried to add another paragraph, but it was after the deadline. lol

  17. - Sigh - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 12:51 pm:

    We all know the comments on the tapes were unbecoming. However as Attorney General candidates, shouldn’t they all be concerned by the fact that these tapes were sealed and have obviously been leaked?

    Erika Harold: “The released FBI recorded…”

    Did I miss something? Did the FBI release the entire record?

    Let’s skip the political responses. Blah.. Blah… Blah… Tell me how YOU, as an AG candidate would address leaked information that was under the chain of command of the Illinois Attorney General…. The candidates talk about corruption, bullying, and grand jury powers, etc., and yet they focus on the content of the tapes instead of the legal issue of where did the tapes come from. {sigh}

  18. - Grand Avenue - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 1:03 pm:

    If Kwame Raoul and Jesse Ruiz are too afraid to step on the feet of JB Pritzker they have no business being Attorney General.

    Their responses are absolutely embarassing.

  19. - JoanP - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 1:11 pm:

    I’m really shocked at Drury’s response. He forgot to mention that he’s a former federal prosecutor.

  20. - Olivia Pope - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 1:11 pm:

    —-I have spent my life and legal career fighting for the liberation of all African-Americans. Rarely is it a popular position but I do it because it is right. When my colleagues graduated law school and chased the money at corporate law firms, I worked for the Cook County Public Defender’s Office because I knew the criminal justice system was racist and I wanted to be on the front lines defending the victims of this racist system.——

    Aaron Goldstein-Since you worked for the Public Defenders Office, I would assume that you of all people would be concerned with the tapes being leaked and due process.

    I would also assume if JB committed any criminal act or the Feds thought he was key in the prosecution of Rod, that the tapes would have been played in court.

    And to Scott Drury response: it’s obvious the reason he was late with his response is bc he doesn’t have a clock.

  21. - Contract disputin' - Friday, Feb 9, 18 @ 1:36 pm:

    Scott Drury’s snow shovel and Daniel Biss’ ironing board walked into a bar …

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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