Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s removal of toilets from an Astor Street mansion to gain a property tax break, a move that gained notoriety during his recent election campaign, is under review by federal prosecutors, WBEZ-FM 91.5 reported Wednesday.
The report, attributed to an unnamed “law enforcement source,” said Pritzker, his wife, M.K., and his brother-in-law, Thomas Muenster, were part of the federal review. The station reported that the review began last October and said there were no signs that any charges were imminent. […]
The scope of any federal review was unclear. Pritzker’s campaign had paid the Perkins Coie law firm a total of $1.5 million since he launched his bid for governor, including $465,456 since Jan. 1, state campaign finance records show.
Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi and his predecessor, Joe Berrios, both said on Tuesday they had no knowledge of any federal review.
The assessor says he has no knowledge of an investigation into the property tax break?
What about the Office of the Independent Inspector General of Cook County? That office conducted the investigation which concluded that the property tax reduction was the result of a “scheme to defraud” the county’s taxpayers. The IIG has a lot of documents and information that the feds might need.
* So, I sent a Freedom of Information Act request this afternoon to the county’s inspector general for copies of any federal subpoenas received related to “JB Pritzker, MK Pritzker, Thomas J. Muenster, Christine Lovely and any other person/topic related to the IIG’s 2018 investigation of property tax issues at 1421 N. Astor in Chicago.” I received a swift reply…
Our office does not have any documents responsive to your FOIA request below.
Steven E. Cyranoski
Federal investigators could just be going off the final and pretty comprehensive IIG document itself. I followed up to ask if any correspondence had been received by the office from the feds and was told that if such documents exist, the IIG could not disclose them because they would be part of the investigatory file, which is supposed to be confidential. (The IIG’s report was leaked last year, you will recall.)
At an unrelated news conference Wednesday morning, Pritzker said, “what I know is what you all know from the reporting that was done this week.” […]
Pritzker says he has “no concerns at all” about criminal charges. Pritzker attorney Marc Elias, a partner with the Perkins Coie law firm, in a statement issued earlier Wednesday had said “neither the Governor nor the First Lady have been contacted by law enforcement regarding the property tax appeal.”
Pritzker’s latest quarterly filing with the Illinois State Board of Elections shows he has paid Perkins Coie more than $465,000 this year, but a campaign spokesman said the payments to the law firm were not related to the investigation. The spokesman said the firm was paid for a variety of reasons, including shutting down campaign office and setting up Pritzker’s “blind trust.”
The campaign is also being sued and that costs real money.
The feds could be talking to contractors or others involved. We just don’t know at this point if the case is active or if they’re just kicking over some rocks. The G often works in mysterious ways. The danger is, once they encamp, they tend to stick around.