Illinois GOP looks to turn screws in Pritzker’s toilet 'scheme to defraud'

By Cole Lauterbach, Illinois News Network | Oct 14, 2018


Photo from J.B. Pritzker's Facebook page  

Illinois Republicans are not going to let Democrat J.B. Pritzker’s troubles concerning a potentially illegal property tax break go away.

Republicans have filed bills that would stiffen fines and even disqualify someone from running for political office for illegally cheating a local government out of property taxes as a Cook County watchdog has claimed Pritzker did when he removed the toilets from his Chicago mansion.

Lombard Republican Sen. Chris Nybo filed legislation that would make a candidate for office in Illinois certify that he or she hasn't “been convicted of tax fraud and has not been found by any taxing body or court to have intentionally engaged in acts of fraud, deceit or misrepresentation to achieve a reduction in the amount of taxes due or to avoid paying taxes that would otherwise be owed.”

Another bill filed by Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) would stiffen state penalties for knowingly committing the similar crime.

State Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, has formally asked the Illinois Department of Revenue to investigate whether Pritzker’s other properties are properly assessed.

“This is a personal failure of him, his wife, his contractors, the people he employs to actually steal,” she said.

Ives, who isn’t running for re-election after losing to Gov. Bruce Rauner in a close Republican primary, said the issue isn’t a partisan one, but a moral one.

“He’s disqualified to be governor,” she said. “And, I’m not a fan of any of them.”

The scandal was made anew last week when a confidential report from the Cook County Inspector General was leaked. The report detailed the more than $330,000 Pritzker received after removing the toilets and other fixtures just days before he had a private appraisal done, deeming the Gold Coast mansion uninhabitable. The report said Pritzker “schemed to defraud” the assessor’s office, something real estate experts have said could be a felony.

Republican members of Illinois’ congressional delegation are also calling on U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois John Lausch to open an investigation into the Inspector General's allegations.

Pritzker has maintained that he followed the rules in getting the tax breaks, but returned the money this week after the report was leaked.

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