Gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton participate in a roundtable discussion with 10 female high school students from across Chicago about the importance of leadership at EvolveHer, Monday, Oct. 1, 2018. (Ashlee Rezin/Chicago Sun-Times via AP)

Pritzker's Toilet Removal A 'Scheme To Defraud': Report

October 02, 2018 - 11:40 am

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — J.B. Pritzker, the billionaire Democratic candidate for governor, engaged in a "scheme to defraud" taxpayers when he removed toilets from a Chicago mansion as part of a property tax reassessment that saved him $330,000, according to media reports citing a local government report.

The review by Cook County Inspector General Patrick Blanchard, first reported Monday by the Chicago Sun-Times, also found that family members and associates made "false representations" to the county assessor about the condition of the Chicago mansion that sits adjacent to another Pritzker owns.

Blanchard also obtained an October 2015 email in which contractors contended that Pritzker's wife, M.K. Pritzker, wanted to declare the mansion uninhabitable and directed that toilets be removed before a property tax reassessment. The report also references the state perjury law and federal conspiracy and mail-fraud laws, but does not indicate whether it has been shown to law enforcement authorities.

Blanchard suggested the county recover the tax savings from Pritzker. Pritzker said Monday that "we're going to follow whatever the recommendations, whatever it is."

But a little more than a month before the November election in a campaign in which his opponent, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, has called him a "tax cheat," Pritzker complained that the report was released as part of a political dirty trick.

"This is an internal, confidential document by the inspector general's office, which was looking into the assessor's office, that was leaked for political purposes in this last month of a campaign," Pritzker said.

The toilets have featured prominently in the campaign financed by tens of millions of dollars of personal wealth on both sides. Rauner produced an ad in which workers carried toilets out of a house and a crown-bearing Pritzker look-alike is declared the "porcelain prince of tax avoidance." And Rauner has financed a van with a fake "Pritzker Plumbing" logo promising to "disconnect your toilets" to help you "dodge your taxes."

"J.B. Pritzker is a fraud," Rauner campaign spokesman Will Allison said. "From the very beginning, Pritzker was devising a corrupt scheme to defraud Illinois taxpayers by ripping toilets out of his mansion."

AP Editorial Categories: