* Rauner campaign…
“JB Pritzker has demonstrated time and again that he’s unwilling or unable to stand up to the powers that be in the Democratic Party. He refuses to call out corruption, whether in the office of Mike Madigan or Joe Berrios. That’s not leadership. It’s more of the same self-dealing that has held Illinois back for decades and benefitted the insiders who profit on the backs of hardworking families.” - Rauner Campaign Communications Director Will Allison
Yet another Berrios scandal emerged on Wednesday highlighting a tax break worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and the next in a long series of conflicts of interest for the Cook County Assessor. Altria, a tobacco producer represented by Berrios’ lobbying firm (separate from his role as Assessor and Cook County Democratic Party Chair), received an assesment from Berrios’ Assessor’s office that reduced their property tax bill by $370,000.
It seems everyone in Cook County has seen and made note of the corruption that runs rampant in the Assessor’s Office.
Everyone except JB Pritzker that is.
In December, Pritzker made it clear he wouldn’t be criticizing Berrios: “I don’t think it’s my job to foment a war between Democrats”
A month later, in January, he still couldn’t muster the courage to condemn Berrios: “Calling people out individually for their failures is, you know, not productive, and I’m involved in my own primary, not other people’s.”
JB Pritzker has avoided criticizing corruption in Illinois, whether it be Madigan or Berrios. His silence shows that he is part of the same, broken status quo.
* The press release references this BGA story about a property tax reduction…
Tobacco giant Altria won a lucrative property tax break last year on a Franklin Park factory from the office of Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios, who also is the co-owner of a lobbying firm that counts Altria among its longtime clients.
In September, Berrios’ office slashed the real estate assessment on a 500,000-square-foot chewing tobacco warehouse and manufacturing facility owned by the U.S. Smokeless Tobacco Company, part of the Altria Group which is best known for its Philip Morris cigarette brand.
The action shaved about $370,000 off the factory’s 2017 property tax bill. And the value of the break could potentially be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars more. Records show the warehouse was under contract to sell for double the value that Berrios’ office assigned, despite the legal requirement that the standard for such determination is 100 percent of fair market value.
The Berrios lobbying firm, B-P Consultants, has represented the interests of Altria and its subsidiaries in Springfield since 2009, state lobbyist registration records show.
In a brief telephone interview, Berrios told the Better Government Association he “wasn’t involved” in the Altria tax appeal. At the same time, Berrios said he believed the assessment reduction granted to Altria was justified.