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Griffin ups the ante, threatens to move business out of Chicago

Thursday, May 19, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Katherine Doherty, Natalie Wong and Shruti Singh for Bloomberg

Billionaire Ken Griffin is reaching a tipping point with Chicago, the home to his market maker and hedge fund business, as the city wrestles with rising crime.

“We’re getting to the point that if things don’t change, we’re gone,” Griffin, who founded both the hedge fund Citadel and the market-making business Citadel Securities, said Thursday in an interview. “Things aren’t changing.” […]

“I am involved in politics because I’ve seen what happens when you have poor political leaders,” Griffin said during a Bloomberg Intelligence event in New York on Thursday. “Right now, I live in a state that’s the case study of this.” […]

“My patience is wearing thin,” Griffin said Thursday in the interview, citing an incident he witnessed outside his office this past weekend.

I’ve asked which incident he was referring to.

* From Natalie Edelstein at the Pritzker campaign…

No one should take Ken Griffin’s moral outrage seriously, considering 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. If public safety––not scoring cheap political points––truly kept Griffin up at night, he would divest himself from the very weapons that perpetuate cycles of violence. Instead, he’s allowed his investments in gun and ammunition companies to grow to more than $139 million, up 62% from three months ago from when he first claimed to be aware of them.

Governor Pritzker has added hundreds of new troopers to the depleted ranks of the Illinois State Police and funded state-of-the-art crime labs to provide law enforcement with the tools they need to quickly solve crimes and put dangerous criminals behind bars. He’s also made unprecedented investments in violence prevention programs, ensuring people have access to the tools that prevent crime in the first place, such as mental health support, job training opportunities, and summer youth employment programs.

Crime is a complex and multifaceted issue that Illinoisans are understandably concerned about, but we will not be lectured by those actively profiting off of gun violence.

…Adding… Griffin’s spokesperson said his boss witnessed this incident.


Question of the day

Thursday, May 19, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Ted Slowik..

A Mokena man’s push to abolish front license plates in Illinois is creating buzz throughout the state.

Terrence Smolik believes lawmakers could save taxpayers at least $800,000 per year by doing away with unnecessary, redundant second plates. Illinois should join the 20 other states that only require rear plates, he believes. […]

The Mokena resident has been making the case to ban front plates since at least 2019.

“Enforcement of this law disproportionately and unnecessarily targets the underprivileged, youth and minorities while also being hostile to car collectors and people moving to Illinois from states without a front plate law,” Smolik shared with me three years ago.

* The other side

But removing the front plate would make it harder for police officers and other law enforcement officials to do their jobs, said Ed Wojcicki, executive director of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police.

“It would make it much more difficult to identify people who violate the law,” he said.

Opposition also is coming from the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association, a spokesperson for the organization said, because the front license plate is a “tool we use in our toolbox. We don’t need any more restrictions.”

The Illinois Tollway Authority also remains opposed to the legislation, said Senior Communications Manager Dan Rozek.

“The loss of the front plate would disrupt the technology used by the Tollway to collect tolls, which often relies on matching the front plate with the rear plate to identify a vehicle,” Rozek said.

* The Question: Keep the front license plate or dump it? Take the poll and then explain your answer in comments, please…


Campaign notebook

Thursday, May 19, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Sabato’s Crystal Ball on Illinois General Assembly races

Senate: Likely D

House: Likely D

Democrats drew Illinois’s maps, and that should give them a solid shot at maintaining their wide majorities. In a good Democratic year, the new maps should allow the Democrats to keep or slightly increase their Senate and House margins; in a bad year, it should help keep their losses down. That said, the size of the Democratic margins is at or near historic highs, and billionaire GOP donor Ken Griffin is investing millions of dollars to elect a Republican governor this year, on a platform highlighting crime and corruption under Democratic leadership. Republican legislative leaders would love to ride Griffin’s money to pick up seats in the suburbs and downstate.

Really went out on a limb there.

* Competing independent expenditures in the Rodney Davis vs. Mary Miller GOP primary…

* In McHenry County, Tom DeVore denies calling developmentally disabled kids “window lickers,” despite the evidence

* Wondering about press passes…

The Strokes, the internationally renowned Grammy Award winning rock band, announced earlier today that they will be hosting a concert fundraiser and rally on May 30, 2022 at the Metro in Chicago to support Kina Collins, gun violence prevention advocate and Democratic candidate for Congress in IL-07.

* Press release…

Illinois’ new Third Congressional District is a majority Latino district – home to a significant number of Spanish-speaking residents and voters. The new district’s leading Latino candidates – State Representative Delia Ramirez and Alderman Gil Villegas – committed to participate in a Spanish-language candidate forum hosted by Univision in collaboration with the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and AARP. Yesterday’s Spanish-language forum was canceled minutes before it was set to start as a result of Alderman Gil Villegas backing out.

Latino leaders shocked by Alderman Gil Villegas’ last minute cancelation issued the following statement:

“Illinois’ new third congressional district is majority Latino and home to a significant number of Spanish-speaking voters. The district is a safe Democratic district, and the winner of the June 28 Democratic primary is all but guaranteed to be the district’s new congressperson. That is why we are so deeply disappointed and dismayed that – at the last minute – Alderman Gil Villegas would back out of the district’s only Spanish-language forum sponsored by Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Univision and AARP.”

“All voters deserve to be informed and to hear from the candidates running to represent them – that includes the Third Congressional District’s Spanish-speaking voters and residents that Alderman Villegas hopes to represent. The Third Congressional District’s next congressperson must be able to reach and represent all of the district’s residents and voters, including the residents and voters who primarily communicate in Spanish. Alderman Villegas canceling the district’s only Spanish-language forum is totally unacceptable. We call on Alderman Villegas to show respect to the Spanish-speaking voters and residents he hopes to represent and reschedule the Spanish-language forum he canceled yesterday.”

    U.S. Congressman Jesus ‘Chuy’ Garcia
    State Senator Omar Aquino
    State Senator Karina Villa
    State Senator Celina Villanueva
    Alderwoman Rossana Rodriguez
    Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa
    Alderman Andre Vasquez
    Cook County Commissioner Alma Anaya
    Committeeman Anthony Joel Quezada
    Former State Senator William Delgado

* Press release…

IL-17: Dirty Money Alert: Wallace Campaign Calls on GOP Frontrunner to Return $64K in Tainted Committee Money

The campaign of former state Rep. Litesa Wallace, Democratic candidate for the 17th Congressional District, today called on Republican frontrunner Esther Joy King to return more than $64,000 she received from a political fundraising committee funded by Steve Wynn, an alleged agent of China, and his wife.

Former casino mogul Wynn, a former Republican National Committee finance chair and accused rapist, was sued by the U.S. Justice Department on charges that he illegally lobbied former president Donald Trump on China’s behalf. In April, Wynn and his wife gave massively to the Republican “Take Back the House” committee, which in turn wrote a check for $64,491 to King.

Said Wallace campaign spokesperson Wednesday:

“Esther King wants to talk tough on China. Now that she knows her overstuffed campaign fund is tainted, it’s time for her to live up to her alleged values and return those dirty dollars.”

* Press release…

The following is a statement from Alicia Webb, spokeswoman for the campaign of Cook County Assessor Fritz Kaegi, following today’s reporting from Crain’s regarding Commissioner Kari Steele’s improper homeowner’s exemption.

“Commissioner Steele’s excuses for illegally taking a homeowner’s exemption to which she is not entitled don’t hold up under even the lightest scrutiny. She’s counting on the public overlooking her attempts to game the system–-just like she’s counting on the public overlooking her spouse lobbying for big developers who want to rig the property tax system against working families. But Fritz Kaegi won’t let us go back to the old ways when connected politicians used the Assessor’s Office to enrich themselves and their family members. He’ll put the public’s interest ahead of special interests.”

* DGA press release…

This week, GOP candidates in the running for the Illinois gubernatorial nomination sparred during a Chicago Tribune Editorial Board session, the first meeting of all six candidates in the primary. In an increasingly tight race, it’s no surprise that the faceoff was chaotic, messy, and downright ugly.

Some highlights:

    • Darren Bailey called Aurora under Mayor Richard Irvin “the highest taxed city in the nation” with a “ridiculous pension problem,” and accused Aurora under Irvin of downgrading crimes as civil violations to make the city look safer.
    • Jesse Sullivan slammed Irvin’s “scorched-earth campaign” and accused him of “treating the conservative base like they’re idiots.”
    • Darren Bailey put Irvin on blast, saying: “all he really wants to talk about is trashing each one of us around this table.”
    • …and as usual, Irvin ducked, dodged, and deflected questions about his support for Trump (or lack thereof).

What could’ve been a critical opportunity for the candidates to distinguish themselves turned into a mud-slinging, name-calling mess. And with just under six weeks until the primary, the chaos isn’t showing any signs of stopping.

“With the primary fast approaching, the GOP field is in complete disarray,” said DGA Senior Communications Advisor Christina Amestoy. “The Republicans’ messy infighting means the race is still a total toss-up. But no matter who wins the nomination, we know one thing: they don’t have Illinoisans best interests at heart.”

* Back to the Rodney Davis campaign…

18 current and former central Illinois county sheriffs are announcing their endorsement of Rodney Davis’ campaign for Congress in the 15th District. The sheriffs’ endorsement follows the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) endorsement of Davis last week. […]

    • Calhoun County Sheriff Bill Heffington
    • Christian County Sheriff Bruce Kettelkamp
    • DeWitt County Sheriff Mike Walker
    • Fayette County Sheriff David Russell
    • Logan County Sheriff Mark Landers
    • Former Macon County Sheriff Jerry Dawson
    • Former Macon County Sheriff Tom Schneider
    • McDonough County Sheriff Nick Petitgout
    • Menard County Sheriff Mark Oller
    • Montgomery County Sheriff Rick Robbins
    • Former Montgomery County Sheriff Jim Vozzi
    • Morgan County Sheriff Mike Carmody
    • Moultrie County Sheriff Chris Sims
    • Piatt Mark County Sheriff Vogelzang
    • Pike County Sheriff David Greenwood
    • Sangamon County Sheriff Jack Campbell
    • Former Sangamon County Sheriff Neil Williamson
    • Vermillion County Sheriff Pat Hartshorn

* Sun-Times

The kickoff of early voting for the June 28 Illinois primary is spotlighting some voter confusion in redrawn Chicago area congressional districts as candidates scramble to lock in their votes. […]

In-person early voting starts May 26 for Chicago voters and June 1 for suburban Cook residents in the combined City Hall/County Building in the Loop, with satellite locations opening up in June in the city and Cook County suburbs.

Starting Thursday, Lake County voters can vote at the courthouse in Waukegan; in DuPage County at the fairgrounds in Wheaton; in Will County at the courthouse in Joliet; in Kane County at the clerk’s office in Geneva or the Aurora satellite office.

* Press release…

Erica Conway Harriss, the Republican Senate candidate for the 56th District and a sitting Madison County Board member, will now face an unknown opponent in the general election. Rachelle Aud Crowe, who had been seeking reelection as State Senator from the area, was confirmed unanimously by the U.S. Senate to be the next U.S. Attorney from the Southern District of Illinois.

“I certainly wish Senator Crowe the best in her future endeavors. What has not changed is that the people of the Metro East deserve to have their voices heard in Springfield. I am running because the voices of parents, workers, and local business owners need to be the ones that echo in the halls of the Capitol, not those of political insiders,” stated Harriss.

* More…

* In race to replace US Rep. Bobby Rush, candidates try to break through the clutter in densely crowded field: A total of 17 Democrats are on the ballot, the most for any congressional race in the state. And no wonder: If history is any guide, whoever wins the primary will hold the seat for years, if not decades.

* Where to securely return your mail-in ballot in Chicago and the suburbs


*** UPDATED x2 *** US Census admits it undercounted Illinois population by 2 percent

Thursday, May 19, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller


For the 2020 census, all states were not counted equally well for population numbers used to allocate political representation and federal funding over the next decade, according to a U.S. Census Bureau report released Thursday.

A follow-up survey the bureau conducted to measure the national tally’s accuracy found significant net undercount rates in six states: Arkansas (5.04%), Florida (3.48%), Illinois (1.97%), Mississippi (4.11%), Tennessee (4.78%) and Texas (1.92%).

It also uncovered significant net overcount rates in eight states — Delaware (5.45%), Hawaii (6.79%), Massachusetts (2.24%), Minnesota (3.84%), New York (3.44%), Ohio (1.49%), Rhode Island (5.05%) and Utah (2.59%).

For the other 36 states, as well as Washington, D.C., the bureau did not find statistically significant net over- or undercount rates.

Official release is here.

A 2 percent undercount means Illinois grew by about a quarter million rather than shrank by 18,000.

*** UPDATE 1 *** Gov. Pritzker…

Following a review of 2020 U.S. Census Data, the U.S. Census Bureau announced today that Illinois was undercounted by nearly 2%. This means that Illinois’ population grew by nearly 250,000 people and is now above 13 million people for the first time in Illinois history. In response, Governor JB Pritzker released the following statement:

“I ran for governor on a promise to be our state’s best chief marketing officer and reverse the trend of outmigration we’ve seen over the past few decades. These latest numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau show that Illinois is now a state on the rise with a growing population,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “From boundless economic opportunities, to booming economic development and leading institutions of higher education, Illinois has so much to offer our new residents. While it is disappointing that these numbers were not reflected in the initial count, I have already spoken to members of our congressional delegation and will work tirelessly to ensure Illinois receives its fair share of federal funding. I look forward to celebrating this development with all Illinoisans, including those who routinely badmouth our state.”

*** UPDATE 2 *** US Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi…

Earlier this year, I wrote to the Census Bureau regarding my serious concern that the agency had undercounted Illinois, potentially putting our proportional federal representation and funding at risk. I’m glad to see that the Bureau’s additional review of their data has revealed the truth: that our state’s population is growing and now exceeds 13 million for the first time in our history. These new findings reaffirm that our state is on the upswing in every way, and I’m committed to ensuring that we get our fair share of federal funding.

Senate President Don Harmon…

This is excellent news. It confirms what most of us already know: Illinois is a great place to live and work. We need more people cheering for Illinois and fewer spelunking for misery.

…Adding… House Speaker Chris Welch…

This correction confirms what Democrats have been saying all along: Illinois is growing, Illinois is thriving, and Illinois has so much to offer.


Oppo dump!

Thursday, May 19, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* This is a very neatly framed Tribune story

Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, who is now running for Illinois governor, arrived last year at the scene of an arrest by Aurora police in which his then-girlfriend was accused of hitting a security guard at a marijuana store.

The charges against her “would be taken care of,” a police officer overheard him say, according to a police report of the incident obtained by the Aurora Beacon-News and Chicago Tribune. She was charged with an ordinance violation for battery, a minor municipal charge.

In a GOP primary race where Irvin has elevated himself as a law-and-order candidate, the revelation that he showed up at an Aurora police arrest dealing with his girlfriend threatens to dent the image he is trying to cultivate through a relentless, tough-on-crime ad campaign.

Irvin disputes the characterization of his comments that were included in the police report and that it might have implied he used his influence as mayor to affect the charges against his then-girlfriend, Laura Ayala-Clarke, saying that was “actually incorrect.”

Real life isn’t quite so neat.

I’ve seen the video of what went down at that pot shop and, to my eyes, Irvin’s girlfriend was pummeled, pepper sprayed and then forcefully dragged by a much larger person. Yeah, she stubbornly refused to leave when ordered to do so. Yes, she was throwing a stupid temper tantrum about a busted ATM machine and acting like a spoiled child by tossing around her boyfriend’s name to get her way. And yes, she appeared to reflexively fight back.

But, man, she was pummeled, pepper sprayed and dragged. The video made me sick to my stomach. There’s no excuse for that. Security guards don’t have nearly the same authority as police officers, but this would’ve been wrong if the cops had done something similar, which they didn’t. They appeared to handle the situation in a calm manner.

And as far as the matter being “taken care of,” the charges have not been dropped against the girlfriend. Mayor Irvin may have bragged about his bigshot power, but this hasn’t yet gone away.

* That being said, a guy who is running a campaign almost wholly centered around unquestionably supporting the police sure does have a strange way of showing it when he claims that the cop’s report was false.


*** UPDATED x1 *** New Griffin gun stock story prompts intense round of finger-pointing

Thursday, May 19, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller


Billionaire Kenneth Griffin’s financial empire expanded its holdings in gun and ammunition stocks this spring, newly-filed records show, while he and his favored GOP gubernatorial candidate, Richard Irvin, hammered Gov. JB Pritzker for rampant violent crime.

Griffin’s $51 billion hedge fund, Citadel, and its market-making cousin, Citadel Securities, increased the value of their gun and ammunition manufacturing holdings by 62% during the first quarter of this year compared to the final three months of 2021, a company filing with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission shows.

All told, Citadel’s gun and ammunition holdings were worth more than $139 million as of March 31, up from $86 million three months earlier, the records showed. […]

Last February, WBEZ reported how gun manufacturers in which Citadel invested produced one in four recovered firearms from Chicago homicides during the past five years.

Citadel maintained that it was compelled to hold shares in those gun companies because of its role as a market maker, but Griffin and the company faced criticism from some anti-violence activists because of his stridency in blaming Pritzker personally for rising crime in Chicago.

* From Ken Griffin’s spokesperson Zia Ahmed…

Citadel Securities is the largest equity market maker in the U.S., helping people buy or sell stock in companies they want to invest in to achieve their financial goals — whether to buy a home, fund their children’s education, or save for retirement. It is disappointing that a publicly-funded news organization insists on continuing to deliberately misconstrue our role in the marketplace and parrot sloppy political opposition research from Governor J.B. Pritzker. The violence destroying Chicago is the result of a failure to prosecute criminals, a lack of support for police, and progressive left legislation that prioritizes criminals ahead of law-abiding citizens – policies perpetuated by the Governor.

A “publicly-funded news organization.” Hmm.

* From Ken Griffin…

There’s an old adage, ‘Never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty while the pig likes it.’ When great companies like Boeing decide to leave our State it should be a wake up call that policies not politics matter. The Governor should focus on making our streets safer, improving our schools, and creating more jobs in Illinois

Not sure that Boeing left for such parochial reasons, but whatevs.

* Natalie Edelstein at the Pritzker campaign…

Ken Griffin is entirely unserious about making our state safer and this massive increase in investments is just further proof. One out of every four guns recovered from city homicides in the past five years came off the assembly lines of companies in which Griffin’s Citadel held shares––and when faced with that information Griffin doubled down. Just like his hand-picked gubernatorial candidate Richard Irvin, Griffin will say anything to save face in public, but Illinoisans can see right through their tired act and know where their loyalties lie.

It’s still kind of a stretch.

* Eleni Demertzis at the Irvin campaign…

Mayor Irvin is a supporter of the 2nd amendment, owns two licensed firearms and believes Mr. Griffin, like everyone else in this country, is free to invest in whatever industry he chooses. Everyone agrees the spike in violent crime is directly related to the radical anti-police, pro-criminal policies pushed by JB Pritzker and Kim Foxx. To get violent crime under control, throw Pritzker out of office, repeal his radical pro-criminal policies, empower the police to do their jobs and pass a constitutional amendment to allow voters to recall pro-criminal prosecutors like Kim Foxx. 

The spike in violent crime has been national.

Anyway, your thoughts?

*** UPDATE *** A spokesperson for Boeing just called to say that the company is not leaving Chicago. “We’re going to continue employing 400 people in the area.”

The spokesperson also pushed back at Griffin’s notion that the company left because of crime or other issues. “I can confirm that is not the case,” he said.


Flamethrowers are now apparently a thing

Thursday, May 19, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* From Marni Pyke’s story about the Daily Herald editorial board sitdown with the GOP gubernatorial candidates

Irvin’s organization has targeted Bailey and Sullivan with negative advertising. Schimpf, however, warned of potential consequences.

“Unless you have a unified Illinois Republican Party behind you — both the conservative base and the suburban moderates — you simply cannot win,” he said. “If you’re running a flamethrower campaign going after other Republicans, you’re not going to be able to put the party back together.”

* Speaking of flamethrowers

I mean, that big stack of paper was still standing when it was all over. Needs more cowbell.


Defense, prosecutors debate “goodwill”

Thursday, May 19, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Steve Daniels on the legal arguments over jury instructions for the ComEd defendants

“The instructions should state, as defendants have argued, that a violation . . . requires a quid pro quo,” according to the [defense] filing. “In other words, a person acts corruptly in violation of (the law) when he or she exchanges a thing of value for an official act. The Supreme Court has held that ‘for bribery there must be a quid pro quo—a specific intent to give or receive something of value in exchange for an official act.’ ”

So, in the instructions they propose Leinenweber give, [defendants] suggest he make clear, “It is not a crime to give something to a public official to build a reservoir of goodwill that might ultimately affect one or more of a multitude of unspecified acts, now and in the future.”

The proposed jury instructions from U.S. Attorney John Lausch, also filed May 16, suggest instead this construct: “A person acts corruptly when that person acts with the intent that something of value is given or offered to reward or influence an agent of state government in connection with the agent’s official duties.”

Defense attorneys want more specificity than that.

So, if a legislator wins a “Best Friend of the Widget Industry” award every year and receives regular campaign contributions from the widget group and its members and then sponsors a new widget industry bill, are the industry lobbyists and the legislator who happens to represent lots of widget workers acting corruptly or is the legislator merely a beneficiary of goodwill and attempting to do something perceived by the legislator and the industry as a positive for the state?

And, yes, I get that ComEd went way beyond the above hypothetical, but the debate the defense wants to have is whether what they did was just an extreme, far more organized and hugely effective extension of the smaller-scale things that happen every day in the political world. Ultimately (after a retrial), Rod Blagojevich’s argument that the feds were criminalizing politics did not work. These defendants, however, appear to have better lawyers and will likely be far more well-behaved than Rod was.


Open thread

Thursday, May 19, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

* Keep it local, please. Thanks.



Thursday, May 19, 2022 - Posted by Rich Miller

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