* You gotta love how this interview starts…
David Greising, president of BGA: Good afternoon, Ken. Please tell me your news.
And it goes downhill from there. Good government groups in Chicago do some valuable work, but they also exist to stroke the egos of potential donors.
…Adding… If you click here and scroll down to page 22, you’ll see that Griffin contributed $100,000 to the BGA in 2020, the most recent donation records we currently have for the BGA.
* Ken Griffin’s response…
Ken Griffin: Big picture, I’m going to get behind Richard Irvin, the mayor of Aurora. He’s an incredible leader, has a strong track record as mayor of Aurora, and really epitomizes the American dream. I believe he has the talent, the drive and the caring that we need to turn Illinois around.
BGA: Citadel is well known for your use of data. What sort of data did you collect in making this decision?
KG: It’s a field of candidates with very little name recognition to start with, so the data is not going to be as important as the character of the people that you’re getting behind and the policies they’re going to drive as governor. And what you’ve got with Richard is you can see what those policies are going to look like based on his effective track record as mayor of Aurora.
I had with Richard a connection on issues that are really important to me, issues around making sure to end the crime pandemic that has engulfed Chicago; making sure that we put the state’s fiscal house in order so that we build new factories, creating both jobs in construction, in the factory, in all the infrastructure around the factory. These things will happen in a state that is perceived to be stable and where the economy is growing. We need the flywheel to work in the other direction, one that takes us forward, not backward. […]
BGA: In your speech to the Economic Club of Chicago you made a point about the impact of violent crime on the city.
KG: Crime in Chicago is out of control. I’ve had four colleagues mugged in the last year, year and change. I had a colleague in a car where a bullet went through the car right next to him. The retail space in the building I live in had 27 bullet holes in the looting during the summer a year and a half ago. It’s a tough environment to tell somebody when you graduate from college you need to come to Chicago. It’s damn near impossible to grow a business in a state where people who live here are afraid to stay. I’ve got high-paying jobs. I’ve got plenty of opportunities and options. My New York office is growing by leaps and bounds. My Chicago office is not.
BGA: Will Richard Irvin’s background as a criminal defense lawyer be an issue in the politics of the campaign?
KG: It could be an issue, but I’m going to tell you, every single person in this country is entitled to a good defense. If you want justice, then every single person is entitled to a good defense. I have respect for a person who will give a young man or a young woman, or any demographic—old, young, middle-aged—the right to a fair trial. It’s a core tenet of our democracy. […]
BGA: We’re being deluged with J.B. Pritzker ads about an improved credit rating, about a balanced budget. Gov. Pritzker is meeting obligations on evidence-based funding for schools and meeting pension obligations. As a political matter, how concerned are you that there’s an impression that Illinois fiscal house is getting in order?
KG: As a political matter, I’m very concerned. The handouts that our state government has gotten from the federal government during the course of the pandemic have given us a temporary respite from our poor decisions. And rather than helping to prepare for a rainy day, the governor’s just pretending everything is business as usual. I think the voters of our state when presented with the facts will come to a thoughtful conclusion. […]
BGA: To the extent Richard Irvin is a centrist, do you see that as an advantage in running for governor if Illinois?
KG: I think it’s a huge advantage. The primary is an important part of the election process. Richard is his own man, he carves his own path. Voters are going to make their decision, and hopefully he’s going to serve this state as governor at the end of the election cycle. […]
BGA: We’re in a situation where you as a billionaire are putting up money against another billionaire. How do you view the fact that you and Gov. Pritzker are such a presence in the election, and is it good for the state that you two played such a role in the graduated tax and will again in this election?
KG: Thank God for the state that I have the resources to lend a different voice. Otherwise, we’d just have J.B.’s voice. I’m going to help give a voice to Richard. He has a great message. This will help him get on the air. This will let him tell his message of where he’s come from, what he believes in and where he’s going.
Most fundamentally, this election will be decided by every single voter in the state who will show up and cast a ballot. I hope that we’ll help people in the state make a really good decision, one that they think is right for them. I believe that if you look at the facts, it’s an easy decision to vote for Richard. But I’ve got to tell you, I believe in a democracy, and I believe in the right of every person to be involved in the democracy and to come to their own decision.
BGA: Do you believe Richard Irvin faces an uphill battle?
KG: If you look at policy, I believe there is no comparison between the two as political leaders. But I do know that J.B. Pritzker is willing to put an incredible amount of inherited wealth into this race, and he’s willing to deliver a message that is flat-out deceiving to our citizens about the fiscal house of the state being in order.
I just challenge J.B.: Spend your time back in Chicago where we have so much going wrong and come forth with a real plan to address the issues plaguing our state, many of them made worse by your pursuit of an ultra-progressive agenda.
* Griffin statement…
We must end the senseless violence that has engulfed our state and put countless mothers through the pain and agony of losing a child to a random shooting. JB Pritzker puts politics first and refuses to address the crime that is tearing apart our state, cities and families. I firmly believe Richard Irvin has the character and leadership needed to again make Illinois a place where people can feel safe to live, raise a family and pursue their dreams.
Richard Irvin is self-made, and his life story epitomizes the American dream. I have tremendous respect for all that he has accomplished.
Richard Irvin will bring people together in Illinois and fight to turn our state around. It is time we reclaim our state from the damaging politics of Governor Pritzker and his corrupt cronies.
Richard knows the importance of ending wasteful spending and reducing oppressively high taxes. Illinois taxpayers are tired of sending their hard-earned money to Springfield to be burned in the furnace of waste and corruption. JB Pritzker – beholden to his cronies and political base – is unwilling to address either issue.
I care deeply about Illinois. I came to Chicago thirty years ago to start my career and my partners and I have built an incredible firm in our state. The policies of JB Pritzker are hurting not only our firm, but also countless other Illinois success stories. I am fortunate enough to have the resources to support Richard Irvin in his mission to return Illinois to being the land of opportunity.
JB Pritzker is resorting to accounting tricks in a desperate move to mislead the voters of Illinois. His proposed spending is already 8% above 2021 levels while taxpayers are fleeing the state. More spending, fewer people – anyone can do the math. Rather than using the funds the federal government provided to shore up the state’s finances, he’s playing politics by postponing his previously enacted tax hikes until after the election. He’s hoping to fool the citizens of Illinois who will be left with a larger bill to pay in 2023.
* Pritzker campaign…
Ken Griffin would conveniently like us all to forget he bankrolled the very governor that decimated the social services that prevent violence, caused our colleges and universities to nearly lose accreditation, and devastated our state’s finances in previously unseen ways. Moreover, Ken’s chosen candidate is entirely unserious about addressing the issues facing Illinois and spent fifteen years profiting off of the defense of violent criminals. The wounds left by Bruce Rauner’s incompetence are still fresh and Illinoisans see Irvin’s candidacy for exactly what it is: another empty suit for Ken Griffin to drag our state backwards.
This post will likely be updated.
…Adding… Irvin campaign…
I appreciate Mr. Griffin’s support and the thousands of other donors who have joined our campaign in the first few weeks. I look forward to gaining the backing of even more Illinoisans throughout the state who want to be a part of this movement to stop out of control crime, skyrocketing taxes and wasteful spending, heavy handed government and corruption, and I will be a Governor who puts people first and tackles these issues head on.
Thousands of donors?
“Ken Griffin bankrolled Bruce Rauner while he imploded Illinois’ budget, defunded social services, and ruined the state’s economy — and now he wants Richard Irvin to do the same,” said DGA Senior Communications Advisor Christina Amestoy. “With his constant flip-flopping, Irvin has proved he has no platform of his own and is building his entire candidacy on Griffin’s out-of-touch talking points. Working families can’t afford a Rauner Reboot — and Irvin would only drag the state backward.”
…Adding… Gary Rabine…
Gary Rabine, candidate for Illinois Governor is issuing the following statement on Ken Griffin’s financial support of Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin’s candidacy for governor.
“We knew from the beginning that Fake- Republican-Governor-Candidate, Irvin, is a bought and paid for candidate. I cannot be bought.
We also know that Irvin has repeatedly voted in Democratic primaries. He supports defunding the police, mask mandates and sanctuary cities. His winning the support of Republican rank and file voters will be an uphill climb.”
In an email, Greising, a former Tribune columnist, said Griffin’s lifetime contributions to the BGA total $375,000. He also noted Pritzker was a past donor, and that Mayor Lori Lightfoot, a Democrat, is a previous donor and past BGA board member.
“Going back to my time at the Tribune — when my columns sometimes would irritate board members and major advertisers — I have reported and written without allowing any non-journalistic influences to affect my work,” Greising wrote.
…Adding… Greg Hinz…
Greising asked the right questions, but it’s fair to wonder if he could have pushed harder, given that Griffin donated $100,000 to the BGA in 2000 and another $275,000 in earlier years.
He didn’t push at all.
Democratic Party of Illinois Executive Director Abby Witt responded to the news that Ken Griffin donating $20 million to gubernatorial candidate Richard Irvin:
“Today, Ken Griffin made it official: the Rauner Reboot is officially on,” said Abby Witt, Executive Director of the Democratic Party of Illinois. “The 2022 candidate slate is centered around Richard Irvin, who now has Rauner’s moneyman and Rauner’s campaign team pulling the strings after Bruce Rauner himself gave Irvin the seal of approval. It’s clear Irvin will do or say whatever is politically convenient to get elected, already contradicting and reversing himself on issues of critical importance to Illinois voters. Irvin is already dodging questions about his own 15-year history as a criminal defense attorney while launching baseless, false attacks on criminal justice reform efforts. Meanwhile, the rest of the slate hides from the public, avoiding voters and ducking reporters as they wait for their marching orders.
“One thing is clear: while Irvin and the slate will say whatever they’re told to get elected, their end goal is to bring the Rauner days of cuts, chaos, and crisis back to Illinois. Voters will see this reboot for what it is, reject this slate, and continue to move Illinois forward under Democratic leadership.”
* David Greising: Believe it or not, billionaires make Illinois politics better: Had Griffin not intervened, Pritzker’s profligate spending to sell voters on his signature policy proposal could have overwhelmed the opposition. The governor poured $58 million of his own money trying to pass the amendment. But Griffin matched that, almost dollar for dollar, spending more than $53 million in opposition.