Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker said he had “no concerns at all” Wednesday when asked about a WBEZ report on a federal investigation that has been opened into a controversial property tax appeal on one of his family’s Gold Coast mansions.
Pritzker reacted to the politically explosive disclosure during an appearance on the Near West Side Wednesday morning.
“Let me be clear that I’m very confident that any review of this matter will show that all the rules were followed. I’ve not been contacted by any law enforcement. Neither has MK,” Pritzker said, alluding to Illinois First Lady MK Pritzker.
“You know, I will say that last October, my opponents raised this issue, and it became a political subject,” the first-term Democrat continued. “But today, we’re very focused on the important work that needs to be done in Springfield. That’s what we’re doing. We have many bills that are focused on lifting up working families. That’s the focus of all our efforts, and that’s what I’m going to stay laser-focused on.”
Earlier Wednesday, WBEZ cited a law enforcement source familiar with the investigation who confirmed that federal authorities had opened a probe into the first-term Democratic governor, his wife and her brother last October.
The investigation deals with property tax breaks the Pritzkers received by removing toilets from a mansion they were renovating in order to have the home declared “uninhabitable,” which ultimately lowered their property tax bills.
A confidential Cook County Inspector General investigation, first reported by the Chicago-Sun Times, also found that MK Pritzker’s personal assistant and her brother made “false representations” on tax appeal documents.
The report characterized those actions as a “scheme to defraud” the county out of more than $331,000. The Pritzkers later refunded that money to the Cook County treasurer last October.
The Sun-Times first reported on the Pritzkers’ dubious property tax appeals nearly two years ago, but the story gained new attention in the heat of last year’s gubernatorial campaign.
There are no signs that criminal charges are imminent from the federal investigation.
The revelation, which caused Pritzker’s name to start trending on Twitter in Chicago for a time on Wednesday, became fodder for Republicans who are hoping to derail the governor’s push to get a graduated income tax passed by the General Assembly in the next five weeks to be placed on the 2020 ballot.
“After just a few short months in office, JB Pritzker has already proven to the people of Illinois that he is completely unworthy of their trust,” said John Burke, a spokesman for the Republican Governors Association.