Capitol Fax.com - Your Illinois News Radar » *** UPDATED x1 *** BGA alleges Pritzker conflict of interest, Pritzker’s lawyer calls that claim “potentially libelous”
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*** UPDATED x1 *** BGA alleges Pritzker conflict of interest, Pritzker’s lawyer calls that claim “potentially libelous”

Friday, Feb 25, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* BGA

The blind trust set up to manage Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s vast wealth bought stock in one of the state’s biggest Medicaid contractors in 2020, the same year his administration made several decisions that benefited the company’s bottom line.

The purchase of stock in health insurance giant Centene Corp. was made on behalf of the billionaire governor by trustees at Northern Trust, appointed by Pritzker to independently manage his portfolio to separate those investment decisions from his role as the state’s most powerful elected official.

The investment in Centene — which collected more than $2.6 billion from state Medicaid contracts in the first half of 2021 alone — demonstrates the pitfalls of a blind-trust arrangement that still leaves the nation’s richest governor open to potential conflicts of interest.

The acquisition by Pritzker’s trust came despite his campaign pledge to purge his personal portfolio of companies holding state contracts. He also promised, as governor-elect, to make charitable contributions matching gains in his trust’s holdings from entities that hold state contracts.

The issue of stock purchases by elected officials is now being debated in Congress, which is considering an array of strengthened stock disclosure laws aimed at stopping lawmakers from profiting from their access to insider information. The stock holdings of judges and federal banking officials also have come under scrutiny.

Experts interviewed by the Better Government Association say the governor could have avoided the potential conflict by instructing his trust managers to refrain from investing in state contractors. Pritzker’s spokespeople declined to say whether he ever considered doing so.

“I don’t see why a trustee couldn’t operate within those bounds — especially given that he seems to have acknowledged the potential of a conflict with his pledge” to divest of companies that hold state contracts, said Eleanor Eagan of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, based in Washington, D.C. […]

Experts interviewed by the BGA said there is a conflict of interest if the state has contracts with a company in which the governor’s trust holds stock.

“Absolutely,” said Eagan. “I don’t really see how one can argue otherwise.” […]

A BGA review of public records shows the purchase of Centene stock could have been made any time between Jan. 1, 2020, and Dec. 31, 2020. While the blind trust is designed to guard Pritzker from knowing when the investment in Centene was made, actions taken by his administration nevertheless benefitted the big health care company.

Starting in 2019 and continuing into 2020, Centene faced antitrust concerns during its $17 billion acquisition of Medicaid insurer Wellcare. The Pritzker administration helped Centene overcome federal antitrust scrutiny by reassigning thousands of Centene patients into other plans.

The state of Illinois also oversaw Centene’s June 2020 acquisition of state Medicaid contractor NextLevelHealth Partners. The transfer gave Centene a toehold in the lucrative Cook County Medicaid market.

You’d think in a long piece about an alleged conflict of interest there’d be some sort of disclosure that Ken Griffin, who is funding one of Pritzker’s opponents, is a major BGA contributor and was the recent beneficiary of a kissy-face profile by the BGA’s own president.

* Full statement from Pritzker attorney Marc Elias to the BGA…

As the documents we’ve provided outline, Governor Pritzker did not personally make any investments, nor was he involved in any discussions at any time regarding any investments. His blind trust is just that: blind. He receives no information regarding potential investments and does not receive monthly or quarterly reporting that would outline what investments he has or their worth. The only information he receives is a ready-to-file Statement of Economic Interest which contains no values. He has no knowledge of the trust’s current assets. To suggest otherwise is not only inaccurate, but potentially libelous.

Oof.

* Full statement from the Pritzker campaign to the BGA…

This story completely mischaracterizes Governor Pritzker’s blind trust and his alleged role in any investment. As we have said numerous times and is made clear in the documents prepared by the attorneys, Governor Pritzker’s trust is blind. This means he is not a part of any decisions nor does he have any information regarding any investments. He receives no regular reporting on what the trustees and investment advisors decide to purchase and plays no role in any investment decisions. Period. Any reporting that would suggest otherwise ignores critical facts and would be grossly inaccurate.

* Anyway, the ILGOP seemed ready with some pointed questions for the governor…

Questions That Need Answering

    · Why didn’t the Governor avoid this conflict of interest by simply telling his trust managers to refrain from investing in state contractors?
    · When was the stock in Centene originally purchased and how much has Pritzker profited from the investment?
    · Will the Governor release all correspondence and documents relating to Centene since he became governor?

* Response to the ILGOP at my request from Natalie Edelstein at the Pritzker campaign…

The Governor does not communicate with the trust managers and only receives his Statement of Economic Interest, which lists the assets, to sign annually in order to fulfill his obligation under Illinois law.

Emphasis in original.

I have asked both the Pritzker campaign and the governor’s office if Pritzker has followed through on his pledge to contribute matching amounts to charity whatever his trust gains from entities that hold state contracts. I’ll let you know if I hear back, but gains occur when stocks are sold, so I dunno if an answer is yet possible.

* Richard Irvin hasn’t yet put out a statement about an hour after the BGA unveiled its story (it was in my spam folder)…

It’s pretty clear the Governor’s blind trust can see perfectly well, and the people of Illinois deserve to know the extent of Pritzker’s personal financial benefit off one of the largest state contracts. This story continues to raise serious concerns not only of the governor’s judgment but also his continued enabling of the same kind of Madigan corruption that’s been plaguing this state for decades.

* Two others on the Griffin slate also put out a statement. AG candidate Steve Kim…

“Now we see why JB Pritzker and Kwame Raoul have kept up this needless crusade on masks in schools: to call attention away from Pritzker’s own potential conflict of interest,” Attorney General Candidate Steve Kim said in a statement. “I want to fight for Illinois and do everything that we can so that everyone in this state knows their leaders are working for them, not for themselves. As Attorney General, I will work to root out this Madigan-style corruption that has permeated this state for decades.”

That’s a stretch.

* Former US Attorney John Milhiser…

“These are the kinds of corrupt practices that have made Illinois families so distrustful of the current state of our government,” Secretary of State candidate John Milhiser said in response to this news. “We need to put leaders with a record of fighting corruption in state government so that we can root out practices like these and take action to end the exodus of people from our state who are disgusted with the way the career Pritzker-Madigan politicians do business.”

* Also from Natalie Edelstein at the Pritzker campaign…

Today’s story by the BGA ignores and misstates critical details and completely mischaracterizes Governor Pritzker’s blind trust. Despite multiple attempts at clarifying that the Governor has no role in any investment decisions and only receives the information required by Illinois law to file his Statement of Economic Interest—which the BGA’s own article acknowledges––the BGA nonetheless knowingly misrepresented the facts.

Governor Pritzker did divest his personal portfolio of companies holding state contracts and then removed himself from all investment decisions. To suggest he broke “his campaign pledge” is false. The trustees provide Governor Pritzker only with an annual report of his assets, which contains no values, in order to sign his Statement of Economic Interests pursuant to the Illinois Governmental Ethics Act. The BGA is suggesting that because the governor is following the law, he is doing something wrong. Most assuredly if the governor did not file a Statement of Economic Interests, the BGA would be writing about how he was violating the law.

The story also misleadingly attempts to connect the Governor to a current debate in Congress over barring federal elected officials from making stock purchases. What the story fails to note is that this effort is being undertaken because members of Congress are personally engaged in trading stock, which Governor Pritzker is not. Governor Pritzker does not personally make any investments, nor has he been involved in any discussions at any time regarding any investments since taking office.

While we are gratified that the BGA has admitted that Governor Pritzker has no involvement in investment decisions, it is unfortunate that despite several good faith discussions with the BGA, they pursued a story that is not based in fact, but rather speculation. We’ve come to accept this type of reporting as the norm from this outlet-–an organization that has accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from Ken Griffin, most recently accepting $100,000 from him in their latest tax filing, and did not disclose this relationship when the organization’s President and CEO wrote a story revealing Mr. Griffin’s endorsement in the Republican primary for Governor.

* Jordan Abudayyeh sent along this email back and forth with a BGA reporter…

Q: After Gov. became aware in April 2021 that his trust owned Centene stock, did he take any steps to recuse himself from decisions and actions pertaining to Centene or to Medicaid?

    A: Centene was initially chosen as a provider during the prior administration in 2018. Since then, any contract renewals have been handled exclusively at the agency level. The Governor is not involved in the contracting process relating to Centene or in any contract management. Since the Governor is not involved, there is nothing he would have to recuse himself from.

We are reporting that JB ran for office in 2018 by criticizing former Gov. Bruce Rauner for being slow to recoup millions of dollars in profits taken by Centene and other Illinois Medicaid contractors: “While costs skyrocket for his secret Medicaid overhaul, Bruce Rauner is negligent in recouping tens of millions of dollars in overpayments to insurers,” Pritzker said in a March 2018 press release. “Incredible sums of taxpayer dollars are falling through the cracks, and there’s no one in charge to stand up for hardworking Illinoisans.”

We have previously spoken with you for our article showing Gov. Pritzker in 2020 worked to quash a proposed bill by Democrat State Senator Dave Koehler that aimed to “claw back” COVID-era profits from Medicaid contractors including Centene.

Would you consider that a fair and accurate summary?

    This summary is not accurate. Here is why:

    • First, existing law provides the authority for the state to claw back excessive profits. Through HFS’ Medical Loss Ratio guarantee, MCOs are contractually prohibited from making excessive profits. Under the MLR, at least 85% of MCO funding is required to go back to medical expenses. Furthermore, the department increased that to 88% as a result of the pandemic to prevent the “windfalls” the legislation you reference was attempting to target. Anything over that is “clawed back.” The 12% “profit” also covers operational and administrative expenses so you’re looking at a theoretical 2-3% profit margin for MCOs on average.

      o As a result of the Medical Loss Ratio, HFS is currently estimating the department will recoup approximately $220 million from the MCOs in 2020. This will take place after the 18-month bill cycle for 2020 concludes later this year.

      o The Medical Loss Ratio guarantee existed during the Rauner administration as well, but they failed to exercise this authority – as documented by the Auditor General. To quote an article from the time, “In one finding, Healthcare and Family Services left $65 million on the table from 2013 to 2015 by not collecting so-called medical-loss ratio refunds, or money owed the state because the MCO didn’t meet the percentage of direct-care costs it promised.”

    • The legislation you are referencing would have violated federal requirements and put tens of millions of dollars of federal funding at risk – raising costs for Illinois taxpayers. It would have failed to provide a true accounting of MCO profits, which are calculated based on a full claims process that takes place over an 18-month period. An interim snapshot provides an inaccurate picture.

    • To further illustrate the degree to which this approach runs counter to responsible accounting, while most MCOs appeared to be profiting at higher rates in earlier phases of the pandemic, since that time those profits have significantly decreased

*** UPDATE *** A bit of tit for tat oppo, perhaps? WBEZ

With Chicago-area homicides, carjackings and expressway shootings all up in 2021, billionaire investment tycoon Kenneth Griffin minced no words last fall when he singled out one man, Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker, for not confronting the crime scourge terrorizing the region.

But while Griffin was deriding Pritzker’s response as a “disgrace,” Griffin’s $46 billion hedge fund — Citadel — and its corporate cousin had investments and holdings in gun and ammunition manufacturing companies, federal securities records show.

In fact, Chicago police data analyzed by WBEZ show that nearly one out of every four guns recovered from city homicides in the past five years came off the assembly lines of companies in which Citadel held shares — weapons that have played a role in the same, worsening crime wave that Griffin blames on the governor.

Griffin’s activism and bank account are shaping the Illinois Republican Party in this year’s election cycle as the GOP looks for big gains in Springfield. Griffin and his favored gubernatorial candidate, Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, are focusing on crime as a defining issue to deprive the Democratic governor of a second term. […]

“These investments make up less than .01% of our portfolio,” Citadel spokesperson Zia Ahmed said, calling any links between the companies’ positions and violent crime in Chicago “quite a stretch.”

2022 fall election preview: The Irvin campaign will slam Pritzker for things like a shaky claim of conflict of interest while the Pritzker people will try to claim on the slimmest of evidence that Irvin is bankrolled by a guy whose investments are flooding the streets with guns.

       

64 Comments
  1. - Pizza Man - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 12:02 pm:

    Campaign season anyone?


  2. - Big Dipper - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 12:08 pm:

    Well Milhiser just blew any credibility he had by calling this corruption. I hope he wasn’t as reckless as US Attorney.


  3. - Buford - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 12:09 pm:

    Only three mentions of Madigan by GOP candidates? Those are rookie numbers, gotta pump those up.


  4. - Hannibal Lecter - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 12:12 pm:

    The muckrakers are at it again.


  5. - Steve Rogers - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 12:16 pm:

    I’m curious to know what Milhiser, Kim, Irvin and ILGOP think about Trump profiting off of the presidency and not putting his assets in a blind trust


  6. - The Velvet Frog - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 12:21 pm:

    == Why didn’t the Governor avoid this conflict of interest by simply telling his trust managers to refrain from investing in state contractors?==

    It’s a blind trust. The whole point is that the trust managers handle it and he doesn’t tell them anything.


  7. - SomeGuy - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 12:22 pm:

    Nice to see that Madigan is still the boogeyman. Every single statement from the GOP candidates mentions him.


  8. - Rabid - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 12:23 pm:

    Gop wants to know why JB didn’t step in? Blind trust broken


  9. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 12:25 pm:

    The BGA as an entity is not non-partisan, or better, is agenda driven by those funding the BGA and seemingly forcing narratives that surround a factual thing and make the things they want to be salacious seemingly “proven” by a fact… then filling conjecture masquerading as a fact too.

    Yeah, I walked that around the barn, but here’s the thing; using the BGA and this formula to try to push narratives, it’s not your garden variety muckraking, it a package designed to seem far more thoughtful than the BGA knows itself it isn’t.

    We’ll see how this all falls in ads, as an example, and if Pritzker will seek a legal relief as threatening


  10. - Rabid - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 12:30 pm:

    Kim acting like DeVore fighting for unmasking kids too


  11. - Nick - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 12:30 pm:

    Honestly pretty weak sauce.


  12. - Pundent - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 12:30 pm:

    The BGA starts with a conclusion and works their way back from their to find something untoward. Not that different than the way that the editorial board at the Trib operates. Of course when the facts don’t support the conclusion it’s rarely if ever acknowledged. Because the process is the feature not a bug.


  13. - Derek Smalls - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 12:31 pm:

    Better Griffin Association.


  14. - TheInvisibleMan - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 12:39 pm:

    I’ve never been concerned with these stock issues. Even at the federal level, if there is a bill that will benefit a company or industry, the text of the bill is usually long known about. Meaning anyone can read these publicly available bills, and invest in these same companies based on that information. For example, there is currently a bill to allow for the removal of the restrictions on cannabis companies to use the banking system. That bill and its contents have been long known of and that it will greatly benefit the cannabis industry if it passes. The impact to the stock won’t happen until the bill becomes law, and at that time a lot of money will flow into those stocks benefiting those who bought before it was law. But it isn’t a secret that it’s already in the works.

    More broadly, the types of events being foisted on JB here can easily be triggered by something as simple as buying an industry-focused ETF fund. You buy a single fund, but that fund holds within it dozens or even hundreds of individual companies. In that condition, if the trust buys such an industry ETF fund, then the fund by default has technically invested in that single company - but also hundreds of other ones at the same time.

    It’s why I still see the complaints of ‘insider trading’ by congress prior to the pandemic as laughable. I sold out 90% of my own portfolio in early Feb, because the information of what was coming was already out there. I didn’t need to be in a secret congressional hearing to know to sell my stocks back then.

    For me, these accusations are just lazy low hanging fruit, that lands best on those unfamiliar with the intricacies of the financial system.


  15. - Lt Guv - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 12:40 pm:

    Sie ‘em all


  16. - Give Us Barabbas - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 12:41 pm:

    While there’s maybe not a lot of “there” there, the average citizen will be left wondering about something that seems pretty cut and dried to them:

    “When you first set up the blind trust, why didn’t you instruct them to avoid these kinds of investments, to preclude exactly this kind of scenario? Is there seriously nobody at the trust that looks at a potential buy and checks for these things before making the buy? And why do they still have a job?”


  17. - PublicServant - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 12:43 pm:

    Madigan, blah, blah, Madigan, blah, corrupt, Madigan, blah, blah-blah.

    In other words: We got nuthin’.


  18. - Lucky Pierre - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 12:45 pm:

    Truly Orwellian that reporting facts is “potentially libelous”or that Elias would file a lawsuit and then subject the Pritzker blind trust to discovery in the lawsuit


  19. - sal-says - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 12:47 pm:

    BGA used to be a mol straight shooter with researched facts. Note: “USED TO BE”

    A LONG time ago.


  20. - Name Withheld - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 12:49 pm:

    As blind trusts go, Governor Pritzker’s seems far more blind than Governor Rauner’s ever was.


  21. - Candy Dogood - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 12:49 pm:

    The extent of Rich’s coverage here a testimony of the importance of media focused on state government issues. I now regret typing that this was somewhat of a self own.

    Glad you’re back with us, Rich. We were but wondering sheep without your ability to fully cover what the BGA left out of their report.


  22. - Ali - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 12:50 pm:

    I wonder how many Fortune 100 companies the state doesn’t do business with? This is a large, broadly traded public company, in the health care space, during a pandemic. If elected officials in IL shouldn’t have stock or bond investments, then why doesn’t ILGOP introduce and pass that legislation?


  23. - MrMisery - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 12:51 pm:

    ==“Now we see why JB Pritzker and Kwame Raoul have kept up this needless crusade on masks in schools: to call attention away from Pritzker’s own potential conflict of interest,” Attorney General Candidate Steve Kim said in a statement.==

    I thought he was doing it so he could control us? /s


  24. - SomeGuy - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 12:56 pm:

    ===“When you first set up the blind trust, why didn’t you instruct them to avoid these kinds of investments, to preclude exactly this kind of scenario? Is there seriously nobody at the trust that looks at a potential buy and checks for these things before making the buy? And why do they still have a job?”===

    Seriously? You are asking why Pritzker didn’t tell his blind trust what to do. Do you know what the “blind” part of blind trust means?


  25. - The Velvet Frog - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 1:00 pm:

    Never thought I’d see the day when the GOP is complaining that a governor’s blind trust should be less blind. Nonsensical.


  26. - Grandson of Man - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 1:00 pm:

    Elias has quite a record of major legal victories on voting, either directly or indirectly as a supporter of other cases. Pritzker has a great attorney, who is one of the very few people in America who has a major positive impact on voting rights and election integrity.


  27. - Rich Miller - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 1:00 pm:

    ===You are asking why Pritzker didn’t tell his blind trust what to do===

    He should’ve told them not to invest in these sorts of companies. But stepping in now would be treading on the blind trust. They put him in a trick box.


  28. - Three Dimensional Checkers - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 1:04 pm:

    Definitely weak sauce, but I don’t like threatening libel. Penny Pritzker’s charitable fund donated a lot to the BGA too. I think it is more corporate Republican bias than money because BGA seems to get money from both sides.


  29. - Ducky LaMoore - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 1:04 pm:

    “They put him in a trick box.”

    Truly. They are baiting him to comment on something he can’t legally comment on. I’m sure he wishes he would have told them not to invest in those companies within the trust. Coulda shoulda woulda but he didn’t.


  30. - The Velvet Frog - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 1:07 pm:

    With a blind trust, is it really OK to advise them on how to invest when starting it up? Seems like that has the potential to defeat the whole purpose. And I’m not sure what category of companies they should avoid, I’m not sure how someone would predict every company that could potentially do business with a state.


  31. - New Day - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 1:07 pm:

    “We’ve come to accept this type of reporting as the norm from this outlet-–an organization that has accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from Ken Griffin, most recently accepting $100,000 from him in their latest tax filing, and did not disclose this relationship when the organization’s President and CEO wrote a story revealing Mr. Griffin’s endorsement in the Republican primary for Governor.”

    When Greising’s column became an arm of Irvin campaign last week, I predicted this would happen. BGA created this bed for themselves. Everything they do on Pritzker is going to be viewed as suspect because of their perceived support for whomever Ken Griffin promotes. Frankly, and I said this at the time too, their mindless support for Griffin was a great service to the Pritzker campaign. Heckuva job BGA.


  32. - Juvenal - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 1:07 pm:

    It’s almost as if the BGA is coordinating its activities with Ken Griffin.

    >almostasif


  33. - Bored Chairman - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 1:10 pm:

    == He should’ve told them not to invest in these sorts of companies. But stepping in now would be treading on the blind trust. ==

    Exactly right. JB messed up when he formed the blind trust. It would have been easy, appropriate, legal and politically the right thing to say “No other instructions for the blind trust other than do not invest in companies whose contracts are approved by the Executive Branch.” State law prohibits campaign contributions from such companies, so there’s an easy precedent to follow. Especially here where it could create a personal financial windfall. This is a legitimate criticism, but not surprised the Governor’s folks aren’t just owning up to their poor judgment.


  34. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 1:21 pm:

    This much I know;

    The next elected that has a “blind trust” situation that needs to be in place… they better make it clear, publicly and in writing to the trustees… any investments fund must be ones clear of companies that could do business with or benefit from state laws, purchases, choices.

    It’s a big miss here by the governor and his crew to that cover.


  35. - Raising Kane - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 1:22 pm:

    “They put him in a trick box”

    He should have given them clear direction and when they saw that on the Economic Interest Statement, his key staffers should have flagged it and changed course. This was an unforced error.


  36. - Just Another Anon - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 1:23 pm:

    I mean, if anyone is an expert on dishonest statements, it would be Marc Elias. He was sanctioned by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals for violating ethical rules.


  37. - The Velvet Frog - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 1:32 pm:

    ==do not invest in companies whose contracts are approved by the Executive Branch==

    As it says above, the contract was approved before he became governor. And renewals are handled at the agency level where he is not involved.

    With a blind trust I assume any specifics about the arrangement are kept quiet as well? I wonder if it’s possible that he did give the trust direction and someone over there didn’t follow it. It’s not like he has any control over it at this point, and he may not be able to comment on it.


  38. - Rich Miller - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 1:38 pm:

    ===This was an unforced error. ===

    No argument.


  39. - Leslie K - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 1:46 pm:

    What I don’t see pointed out by Pritzker team responses (I apologize if I missed it; there’s a lot in there) is that BGA has chosen to work off of an incorrect definition of “conflict of interest.” The point of conflicts management like this is that a personal interest must not influence a government decision. The government official’s motivation for acting in the best interests of the state is in conflict with the official’s personal interest in some sort of gain. The blind trust eliminates the influence of a personal interest because you can’t be influenced by something you don’t know about. It therefore eliminates the conflict of interest.

    Actually earning money might be a bad look to some that BGA has manipulated into an alleged conflict. Possibly why Pritzker committed to donating anything earned in such a way to charity. That is above and beyond what is needed to eliminate a potential conflict.


  40. - Arsenal - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 1:49 pm:

    ==Truly Orwellian that reporting facts is “potentially libelous”or that Elias would file a lawsuit and then subject the Pritzker blind trust to discovery in the lawsuit ==

    Read another book. “potential conflict of interest” is by definition not a fact. I don’t think it quite rises to the level of libel, either, but attorneys rattle their sabres all the time.

    ==I mean, if anyone is an expert on dishonest statements, it would be Marc Elias. He was sanctioned by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals for==

    ..duplicative filings, which have nothing to do with “dishonest statements”.


  41. - Sue - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 1:51 pm:

    Don’t know who JB’s lawyer is but a statement is either libelous or it’s not. What does potentially libelous even mean. Given JB is a public figure- it is extremely difficult for him to pursue a libel claim. Doesn’t really help JB’s image to have an attorney attempt to browbeat a reporter with an accusation that he made a potentially libelous statement IMO


  42. - Chicago 20 - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 1:57 pm:

    Journalistic alchemy.


  43. - Homebody - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 1:57 pm:

    It is always interesting to me how many “non-partisan” organizations seem to just accidentally align with the politics of their donors and politicians who just accidentally come out with prepared talking points simultaneously.

    Weird coincidences.


  44. - New Day - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 1:58 pm:

    “The next elected that has a “blind trust” situation that needs to be in place… they better make it clear, publicly and in writing to the trustees… any investments fund must be ones clear of companies that could do business with or benefit from state laws, purchases, choices. It’s a big miss here by the governor and his crew to that cover.”

    Normally I agree with you Willy, but there are a gazillion potential investments he would then have to avoid including pretty much all Fortune 50 which may have a contract with the state. And again, it’s a BLIND trust. He didn’t know and can’t find out because it’s in a blind trust. And of course we have zero idea whether we’re talking about anything other than a trivial amount of his portfolio. Pritzker went further than pretty much any governor I’m aware of to ensure he had nothing to do with his own money. The only reason he even found out - assuming he reads his own very lengthy statement of economic interests which I doubt - is because he was complying with the law. As a longtime advocate for ethics and transparency in government, I feel great about how he approached this.


  45. - Lucky Pierre - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 2:08 pm:

    Of course it is dishonest to file a motion again after it was denied.

    That is why he was sanctioned by the court.

    There are plenty of good lawyers that would love to represent Governor Pritzker.

    Why is employing one who is ethically compromised and who is central to the the Durham investigation?


  46. - Just Another Anon - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 2:11 pm:

    Arsenal:

    He was sanctioned for lack of candor with the tribunal. Lack of candor can be either active (meaning he actively lied) or passive (meaning he knowingly didn’t disclose something he ought to have). Passive lack of candor is simply lying by omission, thus making the statement dishonest.

    Whether you lie affirmatively or by omission, its still a lie.


  47. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 2:17 pm:

    ===but there are a gazillion potential investments he would then have to avoid including pretty much all Fortune 50 which may have a contract with the state.===

    In the past, maybe the governor “had some stock in some of the hotels there, but very little. Maybe stock in IBM and IT&T.”, but I digress.

    Here’s the thing, the crux… unforced errors to what is reported to what is invested, it’s not a slippery slope of a “gazillion” things of this or that. It is something that can be looked at from all sides and from a reporting standpoint a clear miss to the mere idea of lacking oversight to… filing paperwork.

    There’s no blanket “welp, he can’t help it, everything will be a conflict”. Money managers of that billionaires type of servicers I’m sure can parse out with some having some political acumen where pitfalls lay.


  48. - low level - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 2:20 pm:

    Glad to see Former Federal Prosector Milhiser got a Madigan reference in. LOL


  49. - PublicServant - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 2:30 pm:

    BGA is to Better Government, as Fox News is to news.


  50. - Roadrager - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 2:33 pm:

    ==Why is employing one who is ethically compromised and who is central to the the Durham investigation?==

    Oh, do tell on yourself just a little bit more.


  51. - Moira - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 2:34 pm:

    I am no great booster of MCOs, but The BGA’s recent work on Medicaid is a strong example of focusing on a complex part of state government and instead of taking the time to explain how it works, pointing to the complexity (or the reluctance to adopt a “simple” solution that is not actually workable) as nefarious somehow.

    TL;DR Just because you don’t understand it doesn’t mean that it is up to no good.


  52. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 2:35 pm:

    To Griffin’s oppo?

    I’d call that…”An Embarrassment of Riches”… amirite?


  53. - Nuke The Whales - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 2:36 pm:

    Welcome to the gazillionth issue of Republicans make bad faith statements, but with a question mark at the end. You may recognize other past issues like “what was on Hillary’s servers?” “what else is in the Wikileaks files,” and “what’s in the University of Delaware archives.”


  54. - The Velvet Frog - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 2:37 pm:

    Really, is writing for the BGA the best David Jackson can do? He has a pulitzer and was considered for one four other times.


  55. - Arsenal - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 2:46 pm:

    ==Don’t know who JB’s lawyer is but a statement is either libelous or it’s not.==

    Yes, but since one of the elements of libel is the mindset of the person accused of committing libel, and that’s something that Elias wouldn’t know at this juncture- hence, “potentially libelous”.

    ==Of course it is dishonest to file a motion again after it was denied.==

    Or it’s just a mistake- which is what the 5th Circuit acknowledged when, in its decision upholding sanctions, it said that was “not required to find bad faith when imposing sanctions for violations of local rules.”

    ==He was sanctioned for lack of candor with the tribunal.==

    That’s the label the notoriously political Fifth Circuit put on it, but the actual behavior in question was duplicative filings, and the Court even conceded that “bad faith” was not part of its analysis.

    Honestly. I’ve already made fun of Elias on this blog today, but ya’ll just can’t help yourselves. “A bunch of Republican judges said he was A Bad, so he must be A Bad”. Sorry to not confirm your priors, but judges get it wrong, and for the wrong reasons, just as much as everyone else. Case in point, the judges in this case actually vacated the sanctions against about half of the attorneys who filed the duplicative documents, but they kept them in place for the loud mouth Democrat. What an absolute coincidence.


  56. - Billionaires - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 2:46 pm:

    I like Gov Pritzker, but this is the problem with having a billionaire in office. Obviously, most of us would not need to put assets into a blind trust to avoid conflicts if elected to office.


  57. - Arsenal - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 2:47 pm:

    ==“These investments make up less than .01% of our portfolio,”==

    I’m not sure that “don’t worry, we spend and make way more money off of stuff that doesn’t kill people” is the best argument? But it probably doesn’t matter.


  58. - Lord of the Fries - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 3:03 pm:

    A hit on Griffin for investing in guns is fair.

    Saying that investment is a cause for increasing crime is absurd.


  59. - The Velvet Frog - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 3:16 pm:

    ==Saying that investment is a cause for increasing crime is absurd.==

    They didn’t say that, they just pointed out the hypocrisy. Which is valid.


  60. - New Day - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 3:17 pm:

    Marc Elias is the leading and most successful election lawyer in the country. Any shot at him because of a misunderstanding about a filing is just silly. But yea, LP, you do you.


  61. - Bruce( no not him) - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 3:39 pm:

    “quite a stretch.”
    But, that is what politics is all about. See how far you can stretch the “truth” and see when it breaks.


  62. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 3:57 pm:

    ===In fact, Chicago police data analyzed by WBEZ show that nearly one out of every four guns recovered from city homicides in the past five years came off the assembly lines of companies in which Citadel held shares===

    Ken “Winchester” Griffin?


  63. - Thomas Paine - Friday, Feb 25, 22 @ 4:45 pm:

    === : The Irvin campaign will slam Pritzker for things like a shaky claim of conflict of interest while the Pritzker people will try to claim on the slimmest of evidence that Irvin is bankrolled by a guy whose investments are flooding the streets with guns. ===

    JB is likely to be “Posharded” again and again. When you try to raise ethics standards, people are going to accuse you of failing to meet them.

    The mistake from JB’s camp is trying to defend their record instead of punching back at Irvin’s obvious ethics problems.

    If you are defending, you are losing.

    As for Griffin’s gun money, it does not seem like a stretch to me. Griffin is not like Uhlein - Uhlein made a lot of money and got into politics to pursue a Tea Party ideology. Griffin made a lot of money and got into politics…to make more money. Making Money is Griffin’s ideology, and how he makes his money and his business ethics are at the center of this campaign. It would be less of an issue if Irvin were not a total puppet. There’s every reason at this point to believe that the philosophy and policies of Ken Griffin will ne the philosophy and policies of Jason Irvin.


  64. - MaconMaven - Monday, Feb 28, 22 @ 9:34 am:

    With the Governor campaigning on Rauner’s disastrous handling of MCOs paying billions in duplicate payments or payments to deceased individuals, someone from the blind trust should have thought for a nanosecond about Centene not being a good fit for the trust.

    If Rauner mismanaged the Medicaid agency during his time, what does it say about the current administration that more corruption with MCOs continues even now? Attorney General Raoul settled a $56Million lawsuit with Centene in September 2021, and 5 other states have received million dollar settlements as well over the past year. Centene set aside $1 Billion to settle the remaining 15 states investigating the same shady MCO practices they were caught doing in IL.

    I wonder if the Governor will have his own suite at the new Centene soccer stadium across the river in St Louis? I think Senator Koehler’s invite will probably get lost in the mail.


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