A Feisty Debate, Offshore Accounts — And Some Side-Eye | WBEZ
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On Background: WBEZ's Politics Podcast

March 16, 2018: A Feisty Debate, Offshore Accounts — And Some Side-Eye

The Illinois primary election is upon us! Election day is this Tuesday, March 20. Here’s the latest news from the week preceding primary day:

  • The three Democrats at the top of the polls in the race for governor debated one last time on Wednesday. They sat mere inches from each other. We look at one of the testier moments.
  • Just hours before that debate, the Chicago Tribune released a report detailing ties between candidate J.B. Pritzker and offshore banking trusts in the Bahamas. We break down whether that’ll really hurt Pritzker.
  • This week, Gov. Bruce Rauner vetoed a gun bill, released a plan for the beleaguered veterans’ home in Quincy, and dropped a new attack ad. The moves indicate that he’s not taking his primary opponent, state Rep. Jeanne Ives, lightly.

WBEZ’s politics team broke all of that down during our weekly Illinois Elections 2018 podcast. You can get the podcast delivered to you every week by subscribing here. Below are highlights.

Plus, if you need a cheat sheet for the big races on Tuesday, we have you covered.

Final debate among top Democratic candidates gets heated  

Tony Arnold: One moment in particular stood out to me just because it sums up all the attacks from all three candidates pretty concisely.

J.B. Pritzker: You haven’t stood up for the middle-class pensions. You’ve taken away money from neighborhood public schools to give it to charter schools. I mean, you’re not who you say you are.

Daniel Biss: So listen, I’m not going to sit here and be lectured on who’s a progressive by the guy who’s storing money offshore to avoid taxes and profiting off the Dakota Access pipeline. I’m not going to sit here —

Chris Kennedy: Then let me lecture you.

Call it a March surprise? New report details J.B. Pritzker’s ties to offshore accounts

Tony Arnold: I really have two takeaways from that story:

The first is that Pritzker’s answers to this story only seemed to confuse the issue more, which leads to even more questions. The story focused in particular on Moreau Capital Holdings Ltd., which is based in the Bahamas. The Pritzker campaign says Moreau is owned by a trust of which Pritzker is a beneficiary, but the question is: Why was it set up in the Bahamas in the first place when Pritzker lives and presumably works in Chicago? It sets Pritzker right up for the argument that he’s avoiding paying U.S. taxes and Illinois taxes. Of course, Pritzker denies he’s dodging taxes or that he even has control over these trusts or this company.

J.B. Pritzker: I’m not involved in the decision making in any way in offshore trusts or the creation of offshore entities. I’m not invested offshore either.

Arnold: My other takeaway is that apparently we’ve all missed out on a business opportunity here, which is to bring duck boat tours to the Chicago River, because that’s what Moreau Capital wants to do.

Gov. Rauner taking nothing for granted in primary battle against state Rep. Jeanne Ives

Dave McKinney: Those in Rauner’s camp, they’re feeling pretty good about Tuesday right now. He’s been on TV for months and really I think the main thing he’s focused on is avoiding a repeat of the 2014 primary. That was an uncomfortably close campaign that they haven’t forgotten and it’s one that Rauner won by only three percentage points in a four-way field.

Right now, one poll had 46 percent of conservatives disapproving of his job performance, so that clearly gives Ives an opening here. And her people tell us that they believe the race is tightening. They say that they’re noticing a dearth of Rauner yard signs and they’re hearing a lot of anti-Rauner static going door-to-door in the suburbs.

When you put three main things together — Rauner’s recent veto of a gun bill, his Quincy veterans’ home appearance with no concrete plan, and his new TV ad — you get a picture that Rauner is taking nothing for granted about what the GOP conservative base might be up to on Tuesday.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. Click the “play” button to listen to the entire conversation.

Editor’s note: Chicago Public Media receives philanthropic support from The Pritzker Foundation. J.B. Pritzker, who is campaigning for governor in the Democratic Primary, is not involved with the foundation and does not contribute to it.

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