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JB Pritzker played defense most of the night

Thursday, Mar 15, 2018

* From the Tribune’s “Pritzker called ‘liar,’ ‘fraud’ during final Democratic governor debate”

Rival Daniel Biss called Pritzker’s explanation an “unbelievable mess of word salad” in contending the Hyatt Hotel fortune heir was trying to “avoid taxes” through the offshore companies “and spent the last year lying about it.”

“This is just exposing the fraud that is the J.B. campaign for governor,” said Biss, a state senator from Evanston.

And another contender, Kenilworth developer Chris Kennedy, said voters should consider Pritzker’s words as if they were conducting a job interview for governor.

“I’ve hired a lot of people and I can tell you just one piece of advice to the voters of this state: You should never hire someone who lies to you during a job interview. If they’ll lie to you to get the job, they’ll lie to you to keep the job. And you do not want a liar as the governor of the state of Illinois,” said Kennedy, a member of the iconic Massachusetts political family.

* CBS 2

“There’s nothing new in that story in the Tribune,” [Pritzker] said, commenting on a story that claims Pritzker has an interest in 11 offshore companies that were set up within the last decade.

“J.B. Pritzker set up these companies offshore probably to avoid taxes and spent the entire last year lying about it,” said Daniel Biss, candidate for governor.

Candidate Chris Kennedy also chimed in, saying, “What he’s done is he’s avoid paying taxes in the U.S. Every taxpayer in the U.S. now pays more in income tax because he paid less.”

* Patch

“You’re not who you say you are,” Pritzker told Biss.

“I’m not going to sit here and be lectured about who’s a progressive by the guy who’s storing money offshore to avoid taxes and profiting off the Dakota Access Pipeline,” Biss responded. […]

Biss sought to link Pritzker and Kennedy, who he called “two guys that are experts in helping the wealthy evade taxes” to President Donald Trump and Gov. Bruce Rauner – elected executives who parlayed their wealthy backgrounds into elected office promising to reform a broken system.

“Throughout all of 2016, all Democrats were saying, ‘Dude, Donald Trump should release his tax returns.’ And now here we are in 2018, and two of the three leading candidates for governor won’t do it. It’s just not OK.”

* AP

Pritzker also attacked Kennedy for raising tuition five times when he was chairman of the University of Illinois Board of Trustees. Pritzker said that led to a drop in minority enrollment at the state’s flagship university.

Kennedy responded that the decrease was due to the 2008-2009 financial crisis, and questioned whether Pritzker — whose net worth Forbes puts at $3.5 billion — was aware that the economic crisis had happened.

* ABC 7

“When you can’t win by telling the truth about yourself, sometimes you have to tell lies about competitors in order to win. That’s what he’s doing,” Kennedy countered.

* Sun-Times

Biss blasted both Kennedy and Pritzker for tax breaks the two received. His campaign has been running a digital campaign called “The Billionaire Playbook” that targets Pritzker, Rauner, Kennedy and President Trump for allegedly “putting profits over people.”

“We should let these two guys keep arguing until 8 o’clock about who is scamming the tax system worse,” Biss said about halfway through the hour-long debate.

* NBC 5

“What we don’t know is what Mr. Pritzker is hiding,” [Kennedy] said. […]

Clearly it was not Pritzker’s best night, especially when peppered with questions by reporters after the debate on his off shore investments. He walked away without answering.


At a press conference after the forum, Pritzker left reporters scratching their heads even more when he insisted that offshore trusts were founded generations ago by family members, even though the Tribune reports the trusts helped finance companies that were set up by Pritzker in the last 10 years.

Video of that press conference is here.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - TKMH - Thursday, Mar 15, 18 @ 10:24 am:

    It’s clear JB was trying to obfuscate the issue. It’s also clear that he’s uncomfortable with the issue.

    His campaign staff isn’t doing him any favors by telling him to repeat the same talking point ad nauseam. Like, actively hurting him with this foolish debate strategy.

  2. - wordslinger - Thursday, Mar 15, 18 @ 10:25 am:

    “Throughout all of 2016, all Democrats were saying, ‘Dude, Donald Trump should release his tax returns.’ ”

    For some reason, I find “dude” coming from Biss as very funny.

  3. - Techie - Thursday, Mar 15, 18 @ 10:25 am:

    It is revealing that the same Democrats who were critical of Trump for not releasing tax returns don’t seem upset that both Pritzker and Kennedy are also refusing to do so. Sure they’re not running for President, but governor is a pretty important position. What do they not want voters to see?

  4. - wordslinger - Thursday, Mar 15, 18 @ 10:27 am:

    –It is revealing that the same Democrats who were critical of Trump for not releasing tax returns don’t seem upset that both Pritzker and Kennedy…–

    Who are you talking about, specifically? Or are you like John Kass, pretending that you’re on a cable yakker show?

  5. - Perrid - Thursday, Mar 15, 18 @ 10:31 am:

    Techie, for the record both Pritzker and Kennedy released more than Trump did. I agree they shold release more, but you’re drawing a at least flowed equivalence there. and “Every taxpayer in the U.S. now pays more in income tax because he paid less.” is kinda weird. The income tax isn’t a levy, the government doesn’t say they want X billions of dollars and then decided who to take it from. JB throwing a few million more into the pot would not have convinced the GA to make the income tax 4.9% instead of 4.95% or anything like that. Call him a hypocrite sure, but that particular attack just seems weird to me.

  6. - Oswego Willy - Thursday, Mar 15, 18 @ 10:34 am:

    You can’t be blamed for not performing well. It happens sometimes. Clunkers, even ill-timed clunkers.

    You can be blamed for a lack of preparedness, not knowing how to respond to your own oppo, and especially misleading in that lacking response to your oppo.

    For the love of Pete, Pritzker is a rich guy.

    He was always going to be questioned on it. Always.

    Rauner steamrolled everyone, including the Press by swamping the negatives and always staying on message, never wavering, and having a response that was enough of an answer that Rauner could easily pivot away from the negative.

    Pritzker is failing at being prepared, and far worse, making his own oppo a point that gets worse from the initial point he’s being questioned about.

    Such a bizarre way to run.

    Never understood why, with $34 million in ads, $63 million in the race… how they can lead and also be so under water, and lack a fundamental understanding of themselves that they are making oppo worse by these responses that shoulda been buttoned down.

    The man is uber-wealthy. These issues shoulda been figured when they did oppo on themselves.

    “If we can find it, someone else WILL find it”

    That’s the rule to prepare. Where is that preparation?

  7. - Anonymous - Thursday, Mar 15, 18 @ 10:34 am:

    After listening to the debate I was almost ashamed….is this the best the Democrats can do? J.B. is just an embarrassment. All the three did was complain about each other…..

  8. - Anon324 - Thursday, Mar 15, 18 @ 10:37 am:

    ==It is revealing that the same Democrats who were critical of Trump for not releasing tax returns don’t seem upset that both Pritzker and Kennedy are also refusing to do so.==

    It’s also revealing that Biss and his supporters continue to pretend that Pritzker and Kennedy, who released partial returns, have not been more open than Trump who released nothing. If the argument is “they’re still hiding something,” fine. But don’t characterize it as “they’re hiding everything,” which is how Biss attempted to characterize it last night and how the above quoted statement appears to suggest.

  9. - Anon324 - Thursday, Mar 15, 18 @ 10:39 am:

    *should say “what the above quotes statement appears to suggest.”

    Sorry for the poor grammar, got distracted for a moment and didn’t proofread.

  10. - LXB - Thursday, Mar 15, 18 @ 12:31 pm:

    I wonder if Pawar is kicking himself at all for dropping out. The money might have materialized after it became clear the main three were replacement level candidates.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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