J.B. Pritzker, the new Democrat governor of the State of Illinois, is reportedly under federal criminal investigation for attempting to avoid property taxes by having the toilets removed from his second mansion in Chicago.
Chicago-area public radio station WBEZ-FM reported Wednesday:
Democratic Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker, his wife and his brother-in-law are under federal criminal investigation for a dubious residential property tax appeal that dogged him during his gubernatorial campaign last year, WBEZ has learned.
A law-enforcement source familiar with the investigation confirmed to WBEZ that the probe, which has not been revealed publicly until now, began last October and remains active. There are no signs that criminal charges are imminent.
The Pritzkers allegedly removed the toilets from their mansion, located in Chicago’s wealthy Gold Coast district, to render the property “uninhabitable.”
That lowered the assessed value of the property by some $5 million, and saved the Pritzkers hundreds of thousands of dollars in property taxes.
When nature called, the Pritzkers could simply use the toilets in their first mansion, located next door.
The accusations against Gov. Pritzker and his wife surfaced during the 2018 gubernatorial election. As National Public Radio reported in October 2018, Cook County Inspector General Patrick Blanchard investigated the scheme and wrote a report about it in 2015, which surfaced during the election. Blanchard called the toilet tax dodge a “scheme to defraud” the government.
But the scandal failed to keep Pritzker from winning the election in a 55%-to-39% landslide, thanks to support from the state’s unions, the persistent left-wing bias of the state’s major media, and lackluster conservative support for incumbent Republican Bruce Rauner.
Rauner scored a national success by backing the plaintiff in the Supreme Court case that resulted in the landmark Janus v. AFSCME decision last year, which ended mandatory dues for public sector workers.
However, Rauner barely survived a primary challenge from then-State Rep. Jeanne Ives after breaking his pledge not to support state-funded abortions. He left office with few achievements after losing a battle over tax hikes with Illinois House of Representatives Michael Madigan, the Democrat who many consider the real boss of the state.
Pritzker, a billionaire heir to the Hyatt hotel fortune who had never been elected to public office before, is widely viewed by critics as Madigan’s puppet. In his first 100 days, he has achieved little to tackle the state’s massive fiscal problems. He signed a $15-per-hour minimum wage hike by 2025; has proposed a progressive income tax to extract revenue from the state’s fleeing wealthy earners; and backs a new pro-abortion bill that would be the most radical in the nation.
If Pritzker is indicted and convicted, he would be the fifth of the last nine Illinois governors to go to prison, in what has become an embarrassing tradition for the state.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.