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*** UPDATED x1 *** Reformer criticizes Pritzker for not using tax money to fly to public events

Wednesday, Jun 26, 2019

* NBC 5

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has made four out-of-state trips for official business since taking office in January. Each time, he has traveled on private chartered jets but he has not charged taxpayers, according to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

On Feb. 21, Pritzker, a Democrat, headed to the National Governor’s conference and a black-tie dinner at the White House. At Chicago Executive Airport in Wheeling, he and his wife M.K. boarded a private jet en route to Washington’s Dulles Airport. Four staffers plus a member of the governor’s security detail also boarded a G200 private jet along with a three person flight crew for the two-and-a-half hour flight, according to travel documents obtained in a public records request.

In all, Pritzker has made three official trips to Washington and one to New York.

The governor’s office in a written response noted “The Governor does not charge his travel expenses to the state of Illinois” and said personal and campaign funds were used to rent the jets. […]

When asked about the privately funded trips, Susan Garrett, a co-founder of the Center for Illinois Politics, said “it’s never been done before in Illinois.”

A former Democratic state senator, Garrett acknowledges the unusual move saves taxpayers money, but she said, “There’s something to be said for public servants who have to work within budgets and rules and guidelines.”

It’s never been done before? Really?

Gov. Bruce Rauner used a helicopter, apparently owned by a campaign donor, to get him to a public event on Friday.

“He covered the cost personally, so it would not be at the taxpayers’ expense,” said Rauner spokeswoman Laurel Patrick.

The helicopter landed at Aurora University so Rauner could go to an assessment of flood damaged areas in nearby Lake County. Federal and state emergency management agencies and the Small Business Administration were involved.

That took all of three seconds to find on Google.

…Adding… As noted by commenters, using campaign money to pay governmental and public policy travel is perfectly legal in this state

10 ILCS 5/9-8.10)
Sec. 9-8.10. Use of political committee and other reporting organization funds.
(a) A political committee shall not make expenditures:
(6) For the travel expenses of any person unless the travel is necessary for fulfillment of political, governmental, or public policy duties, activities, or purposes.

That was done to help cut down on governmental travel expenditures. It was, in other words, a reform.

*** UPDATE *** Back in 2003, then Sen. Susan Garrett was the chief sponsor of a bill that, in part, did this

Nothing in this Section prohibits the expenditure of funds of (i) a political committee controlled by an officeholder or by a candidate or (ii) an organization subject to Section 9-7.5 to defray the ordinary and necessary expenses of an officeholder in connection with the performance of governmental duties.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

54 Comments
  1. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 11:51 am:

    ===That took all of three seconds to find on Google.===

    Lazy is gonna lazy.

    You can be “proud” of something AND someone could’ve done that first.


  2. - Demoralized - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 11:53 am:

    I get the criticisms regarding paying government employees extra money from private funds. But criticizing for paying for his own travel? That seems a bit ridiculous.


  3. - Baloneymous - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 11:56 am:

    Rauner flew out to DC on July 1, 2018 for the SCOTUS decision on Janus. Should taxpayers pay for that malarkey? I hope they didn’t.


  4. - DuPage Saint - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 11:56 am:

    I am old fashioned. I prefer my politicians to claim mileage they really didn’t use.


  5. - NIU Grad - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 11:57 am:

    My big thing is that when (someday?) we don’t have an uber-rich governor, will they be criticized for accepting a salary and travelling on public money? We just seem to be relying on having a chief executive who can pick up the tab for certain items, including staff salaries.


  6. - Leon Durham - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 11:57 am:

    The esteemed Governor from Richville


  7. - RNUG - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 12:06 pm:

    Let us not forget Jim Thompson and a trip or two on the Xerox corporate jet, like to the Super Bowl.

    I remember shortly after that ’scandal’ happened, a bunch of State employees were at Meigs Field waiting for the State plane so they could return to Springfield. The plane was late bringing Big Jim back to Chicago. When Thompson got off and saw the crowd, he said something like I don’t think all of you can fit; if you don’t, just ask those guys for a lift and pointed at the Xerox corporate plane sitting on the tarmac.


  8. - Excessively Rabid - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 12:09 pm:

    Guessing he doesn’t stay at Super 8.


  9. - Grand Avenue - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 12:10 pm:

    State law clearly allows campaign funds to be used for official travel, so what’s the issue?


  10. - Grand Avenue - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 12:12 pm:

    Why is she saying it’s never been done before. If you look at D-2s filed with the State Board of Elections, you see a sizeable number of state legislators use campaign funds for travel and lodging to go to events in their official capacity such as conferences of state legislators or DC inaugurations


  11. - Grand Avenue - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 12:14 pm:

    (10 ILCS 5/9-8.10)
    Sec. 9-8.10. Use of political committee and other reporting organization funds.
    (a) A political committee shall not make expenditures:
    (6) For the travel expenses of any person unless the travel is necessary for fulfillment of political, governmental, or public policy duties, activities, or purposes.

    Therefore, if the travel is necessary for governmental or public policy duties or purposes, it can be paid for out of political funds


  12. - Rahm's Middle Finger - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 12:15 pm:

    WOW!!! This coming from the same Susan Garrett would fly on her husband’s private jet to CA every weekend.


  13. - RNUG - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 12:20 pm:

    == is necessary for fulfillment of political … ==

    And you can plausibly argue almost everything is political in nature.


  14. - NoGifts - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 12:23 pm:

    When I travel for work, I can be reimbursed but I don’t like filling out the paperwork so I don’t. I pay for my own travel. The governor has enough money and he probably feels the same way. :)


  15. - City Zen - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 12:23 pm:

    JB wears a long fur coat of mink
    Even in the summer time


  16. - Lt Guv - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 12:25 pm:

    Ridiculous.


  17. - lakeside - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 12:26 pm:

    As some are pointing out, prefer to see it this way than the usual way of shoehorning in some ‘official business’ and then just happening to stop for a campaign event in the same area that evening.

    I mean, I have concerns about a(nother) billionaire for governor and the precedents we’re setting here (paying staff, etc.). But, look, if he wants to pay for his own travel so he can go the way he wants to go, that’s fine.


  18. - Chicago Cynic - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 12:31 pm:

    This story is so dumb. I know folks want to poke and prod at JB because he’s rich. But complaining about the governor saving the state $$$ by using his own money to pay for state travel? Just idiotic.

    I’m sure taxpayers seeing this story will scratch their heads and wonder what the problem is.


  19. - BCOSEC - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 12:39 pm:

    NIU. Good question. Will we have a governor who does not come from the .01% in Illinois again? Another question, should those of us in the 99.99% be concerned about that?


  20. - Shytown - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 12:46 pm:

    He’s being criticized for not using taxpayer dollars for travel? Are we in an alternate reality? Is this Springfield upside down?


  21. - Michelle Flaherty - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 12:51 pm:

    Next up, a Center for Illinois Politics investigation finds that Pritzker isn’t billing taxpayers for caviar either. It’s like he doesn’t even know what taxpayers are for.


  22. - PJ - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 12:56 pm:

    Susan Garrett means well, but for a former legislator she’s just utterly ignorant of some really basic stuff. It’s frustrating for someone who should be in a position to push meaningful reform.


  23. - Father Ted - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 12:56 pm:

    Can we start to slow the roll on reporters’ positioning Susan Garrett as an expert on government reform? You can’t be taken seriously for too long when you complain about government officials spending money and then also complain when they don’t spend money.


  24. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 12:56 pm:

    Garrett is even less impressive as a goo-goo than she was as a state senator. That’s an impressive feat


  25. - Tommydanger - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 1:00 pm:

    I was a member of a state commission for years that required travel to Springfield. I never once filed for any travel reimbursement. Paying for some gas on my own was not a big deal.

    On the other hand I did have an employee that filed for reimbursement for .25 for parking meter fees. And yes, it was a number of years ago and it was out in the sticks.


  26. - Michelle Flaherty - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 1:00 pm:

    Wealthy suburban person says wealthy Chicago person paying for too much.

    Usually you have to go to Koch Bros corporate retreat to get insights like this.


  27. - Grand Avenue - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 1:02 pm:

    The name of the reimbursement game is credit card rewards - you put the travel on your credit card, get reimbursed and then keep the points or airline miles rewards.


  28. - Michelle Flaherty - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 1:07 pm:

    Someone should tell Carol Marin that the squirrel didn’t bill taxpayers for the water skis either.


  29. - OutOfState - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 1:10 pm:

    My question is: why does Carol Marin keep doing these nothingburger stories, then having Garrett and Jay Young criticize the findings in the name of reform? Clearly she’s been digging around this for something juicy, just like her annual look at baseball tickets bought by political campaigns.

    It’s a trend that conflates having a lot of money to spend in politics with spending a lot of money corruptly.


  30. - Amalia - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 1:15 pm:

    well, it’s Susan Garrett…. that said, will JB deduct the trips on his taxes because the trip included office work?


  31. - Hamilton - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 1:19 pm:

    “there is something to be said for…”

    Then say that something, please. If you want to be a reformer, then speak plainly and address the why and how of your suggested reform.


  32. - hulk logan - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 1:21 pm:

    Garrett is also from the 1%. Davos inspired BS “reform” is all 99% can expect of her and her organization.


  33. - Sonny - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 1:21 pm:

    Keep up the good work Susan.


  34. - ChicagoVinny - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 1:24 pm:

    Next Governors should only wear a burlap sack provided by the state and not use their own funds on clothing. /s


  35. - Simple Simon - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 1:28 pm:

    ==The name of the reimbursement game is credit card rewards - you put the travel on your credit card, get reimbursed and then keep the points or airline miles rewards.===

    Are you suggesting that is crooked? If so, then don’t require employees to pay up front and get reimbursed later. The State is asking for interest-free loans from employees, and they are supposed to donate their credit card perks as well?

    Employees should not have to pay a dime for work related travel and expenses. I have no problem with asking for reimbursement for all valid expenses. If someone chooses not to due to paperwork or any other reason, good for them.


  36. - Simple Simon - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 1:31 pm:

    ==JB wears a long fur coat of mink
    Even in the summer time===

    Joke not found.


  37. - Norseman - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 1:33 pm:

    The above comment was from me. iPhone is doing weird things.


  38. - Boone's is Back - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 1:39 pm:

    Next up someone will scour her D-2s and find out that she not only sponsored the bill but did the exact same thing.

    C’mon now!


  39. - Langhorne - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 1:41 pm:

    Back in the 80s, we could damn near hold a small staff mtg at Meigs at 5p Friday. If you showed up, and the director was at the ticket counter, the question was who would get bumped to 6p flight? That was commercial. State plane reserved seating


  40. - tires - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 1:41 pm:

    Rich, i think the ability to use campaign funds was added later. But I don’t think the campaign use is what’s hypocritical of Garrett. It’s that the original bill she sponsored makes it crystal clear public officials can use or accept from ANY SOURCE travel for state business. It doesn’t matter if a campaign fund, a lobbyist, or J.B. pays personally. It’s permitted under the law.


  41. - My button is broke... - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 1:41 pm:

    Amalia - The federal tax cut from 18 months ago or so eliminated the deduction for un-reimbursed business expenses. So no, he won’t deduct it on his taxes unless he can find another way to deduct it.


  42. - Joe Bidenopolous - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 1:42 pm:

    ===Susan Garrett means well, but for a former legislator she’s just utterly ignorant of some really basic stuff. ===

    Same as she ever was. Garretts gonna Garrett.


  43. - A Jack - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 1:51 pm:

    I see nothing in the State Travel Guide about how much one can claim on a travel voucher for private charted jets. So since there are no guidelines, how can one even claim the expensive?


  44. - Cool Papa Bell - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 1:55 pm:

    If memory serves well here Rauner paid out of his own pocket for travel to Asia for an “economic development” trip. He took a few other ones that I think where paid by him too.

    Heck didn’t Pat Quinn pay his way over to see the troops for a holiday or two?

    Nutty.


  45. - Anyone Remember - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 2:21 pm:

    Can a state employee accept free travel from a State of Illinois vendor / contractor? Can the cost be FOIA’d? This was an issue under former MO Gov. Blunt.


  46. - A guy - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 2:30 pm:

    It’s a story here when a dude gets caught spending his own money. OY.


  47. - Simple Simon - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 2:32 pm:

    ===Can a state employee accept free travel from a State of Illinois vendor===

    No, that is prohibited under the Gift Ban. At least for ordinary employees.


  48. - a drop in - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 2:33 pm:

    “Next Governors should only wear a burlap sack provided by the state”

    And what favors the burlap sack makers will receive? Carol Marin has the scoop…..


  49. - Moe Berg - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 2:49 pm:

    “Reform” can be a racket, just like most anything else.


  50. - A guy - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 2:54 pm:

    ==Carol Marin has the scoop…..==

    And a matching outfit.


  51. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 3:20 pm:

    ===Joke not found.===

    - City Zen - is a caricature.

    See… now it makes sense.

    To the update,

    Ms. Garrett knows quite a bit it seems except the law, her own legislative history… and institutional knowledge of but one governor removed.

    Take her seriously here at your own peril, or want for more oblivious comedic rhetoric.


  52. - NothsideNoMore - Wednesday, Jun 26, 19 @ 4:19 pm:

    Well said Hulk Logan & OW.. Garret was not one of the great reformers to take the oath of office in springpatch. To All, Enjoy your Summer it showed up today.


  53. - DuPage Bard - Thursday, Jun 27, 19 @ 1:11 am:

    Susan Garrett is relevant as a quotable source why? What were her big legislative accomplishments?


  54. - Annonin' - Thursday, Jun 27, 19 @ 9:13 am:

    Every time that mouth opens it demonstrates why it belong to a “former” everything. Even on 2nd “reform” group. Hard to figure the beef.


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