In Illinois politics, timing is everything.
Consider fall 2006. J.B. Pritzker was raising money to build a Holocaust museum in north suburban Chicago. Gov. Rod Blagojevich was raising money for his re-election campaign.
Each had what the other wanted.
On Oct. 27, Pritzker and his wife gave $100,000 in campaign contributions to Friends of Blagojevich.
Four days later — a week before the election — Blagojevich announced he was giving a $1 million state grant to support construction of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie. Pritzker was the museum’s chief fundraiser.
The piece makes a ton of assumptions and rhetorically connects dots that are not actually connected by facts. No witnesses, no sources, nothing. A whole lot of sizzle in a straight news piece which reads like an opinion column.
I mean, of course Rod would want to dole out a Holocaust Museum grant right before an election. That’s what governors do, particularly that governor.
And that particular governor was also well known for connecting campaign contributions to government and/or political favors. I could definitely see him waiting on Pritzker to help his campaign before releasing the grant money, even if he never told Pritzker any such thing.
* The Pritzker campaign was indignant and made some assumptions of its own…
JB Pritzker Proud of His Work with Survivors to Build the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center
Baseless Attack by Chicago Tribune is an Affront to an Institution Teaching Illinoisans to Fight Hate
Chicago, IL – In 2009, JB stood with Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel and opened the doors to a museum that honors the memory of those killed in the Holocaust and turns powerful lessons of history into positive actions today. It was the culmination of years of work by JB and survivors to make the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center a reality.
Thanks to that hard work, now over 60,000 Illinois kids and teachers come to the museum each year to learn how to fight bigotry and hate. The founding principle of the museum is “Remember the Past, Transform the Future” – an important creed for Americans less than a month after white supremacists descended on Charlottesville.
But in a story out today, the Chicago Tribune tries to reduce the work of JB and Holocaust survivors to a groundless political attack. The story comes as the paper’s pick for governor, Bruce Rauner, has had a horrendous summer and continues to implode. Just yesterday it was reported that Rauner’s former general counsel is the subject of a government ethics complaint.
“JB has nothing but pride for his work with survivors to build the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center,” said Pritzker campaign communications director Galia Slayen. “At a time when the phrase ‘Never Forget’ has never felt more relevant, it’s disappointing that the Tribune would try to reduce this museum to be a part of their political agenda.”
One should never connect the editorial stance of a large newspaper to its reporting.
* From the ILGOP…
Pay To Play: Pritzker and Blagojevich Trade $100K Campaign Check for $1 Million State Grant
Tribune report reveals another sad chapter in the extensive Pritzker-Blagojevich relationship
“J.B. Pritzker is just another corrupt insider who tries to buy influence and power. First we learned from FBI wiretap tapes that Pritzker considered buying his way into public office by seeking an appointment to the Treasurer’s office from Rod Blagojevich. Now, we learn Pritzker gave Blagojevich a $100,000 campaign check in return for a $1 million state grant. Illinoisans should be worried about what Pritzker will do if he’s allowed to buy the governor’s office.” - Illinois Republican Party Spokesman Aaron DeGroot
* And again today…
Quid Pro Quo: Since 1996, Pritzker and Blagojevich Bankrolled Each Other’s Political Interests
Pritzker: “I know Rod [Blagojevich] is going to be very helpful.”
“Quid pro quo - that’s the name of the game for J.B. Pritzker and Rod Blagojevich. Since 1996, Pritzker bankrolled Blagojevich’s political campaigns. In return, Blagojevich propped up Pritzker’s failed campaigns and gave him insider access to state government. Illinoisans should be worried about what Pritzker will do if he’s allowed to buy the governor’s office just like he bought influence with Blagojevich.” - Illinois Republican Party Spokesman Aaron DeGroot
Yesterday in yet another bombshell Tribune report on J.B. Pritzker’s close ties to disgraced former Governor Rod Blagojevich, it was revealed that Pritzker and Blagojevich traded campaign cash for state grants.
But Pritzker and Blagojevich are no strangers to helping each other out.
Since 1996, Pritzker bankrolled Blagojevich’s political interests, and in return, Blagojevich and Chicago ward bosses propped up Pritzker’s failed plans to run for office.
While Blagojevich may have failed to elect Pritzker, Pritzker still held up his end of the bargain. Pritzker and his family contributed over $160,000 to Rod Blagojevich’s campaigns.
*** UPDATE *** From the Tribune story…
Slayen also said the grant was “dated as beginning on Oct. 1, 2006, before any contribution was given.” The agreement, however, does not indicate that Oct. 1 was when the grant began — it states only that the funding applies to costs the museum incurred after Oct. 1. In addition, the grant agreement was not signed until January 2007.
From DCEO’s grant tracker page…
This whole story is really about a gubernatorial announcement, not an award. The grant began October 1st, but the money wasn’t disbursed until January.