Democratic candidate for Illinois governor J.B. Pritzker “schemed to defraud” taxing authorities when he and his wife had the toilets removed from a Gold Coast mansion just days before an inspection in a move that saved them more than $330,000 in property taxes, a leaked report found.
According to an investigator, the billionaire received hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax breaks, the Chicago Sun-Times reported. The mansion was next to their home.
Cook County Inspector General Patrick Blanchard said Pritzker and his wife, Mary Katherine, who goes by MK, saved $331,432.03 by removing toilets and other kitchen fixtures.
The report, obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times, included copies of emails from MK spelling out orders to the contractors.
“MK is now getting back into the task of cleaning up 1431 N. Astor,” read an email from a contractor to another. “She is going to have the house reassessed as an uninhabitable structure. To do this, she would like to have us pull all toilets and cap all toilet lines in the house. Then, after the assessment, she would like us to put the first floor toilet back in and have this as the one functioning bathroom in the place.”
Blanchard wrote that the plan was “part of a scheme for obtaining money by means of false representations and, in executing the scheme, the responsible parties caused checks to be issued by the Cook County Treasurer and delivered by U.S. Mail according to the direction thereon.”
Pritzker was on the campaign trail with former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton when news broke of the report.
“It was leaked for political purposes,” he said, dodging questions about whether he thought what he did was fraud. “I’ve been saying all along there are real flaws with the property tax system and we’ve got to make sure we root out the flaws in the system.”
Gov. Bruce Rauner’s campaign was quick to jump on the leaked report.
“This Inspector General report proves what we knew all along – J.B. Pritzker is a fraud,” campaign spokesman Will Allison said. “It's clear from Pritzker's repeated use of fraudulent tax dodging that he doesn't have the character and integrity to be governor."
Third-party gubernatorial candidate Sam McCann said the report showed how rich people are treated differently by the state's tax system.
"There are two tax systems in Illinois – the one that J.B. Pritzker and his billionaire buddies abuse, and the one by which ordinary Illinoisans like you and me pay for their tax breaks," McCann said in a statement. "If J.B. wants to be seen as anything other than just another billionaire, he should stop making excuses, own up to what he did, and pay Illinois back the $330,000 in taxes that he dodged."
McCann also called Pritzker's actions "hypocritical."
"The same J.B. Pritzker who wants to raise taxes and make the wealthy pay their share got caught with his hypocritical hand in the cookie jar," the Conservative Party candidate said. "Illinois’ history of corrupt governors is the laughing stock of the nation, and the last thing we need is another punchline governor connected with a “scheme to defraud” the system that the rest of us are forced to live by."