The seven representatives of the Illinois Republican Congressional Delegation called for a full investigation of Democratic gubernatorial nominee J.B. Pritzker’s alleged “toilet fraud” scheme in a letter Wednesday to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois.
Cook County Inspector General Patrick Blanchard concluded in a confidential report in late September that Pritzker, a multi-billionaire, intentionally made one of his mansions “uninhabitable” by removing the toilets in the property in a scheme to obtain more than $330,000 in property tax breaks.
Pritzker’s wife ordered the toilets removed with no intention to reinstall them about 10 days prior to an inspection of the property in October 2015, the watchdog stated in his report, which was first reported by the Chicago Sun-Times.
The appraisal firm, unaware of the removal of the toilets, reduced the property’s value from $6.25 million to under $1.1 million.
“As a result, the County ultimately fell victim to a scheme to defraud, executed in part through the use of affidavits, and which resulted in the property owner ultimately receiving property tax refunds totaling $132,747.18 for the years 2012, 2013 and 2014, as well as additional tax savings of $198,684.85 for the years 2015 and 2016,” the report stated.
The investigation began after the Sun-Times first reported in 2017 that Pritzker let his mansion fall into disrepair to obtain property tax breaks.
The property in question is situated next door to Pritzker’s primary residence which was purchased in May 2006 for $14.5 million.
“Illinois, perhaps more than any other state, has suffered greatly due to public corruption,” the Illinois Republican Congressional delegation said in its letter urging a full investigation of the matter.
“Four of Illinois’ last nine governors have gone to prison,” the letter continued. “It is important to send a strong signal to the people of Illinois that no one is above the law, not even billionaires running for Governor.”
Pritzker said after a campaign event with Hillary Clinton on Monday that the inspector general’s report was leaked in the leadup to the November election for “clearly political purposes”.
Real Clear Politics polling average shows Pritzker going into the final month of campaigning with a 15-point advantage over his opponent, Republican incumbent Bruce Rauner, who has leveraged the toilet scandal to label Pritzker the “Porcelain Prince.”
“This is a politically leaked report without new information,” said Pritzker spokeswoman Galia Slayen. “Instead of standing outside of JB Pritzker’s home, Pat Brady should be calling for an investigation into Sterigenics, a company Bruce Rauner owned that is emitting high levels of cancer-causing air pollution that is poisoning Illinois families. It’s time for Rauner to release all relevant Sterigenics records so that we can provide answers to the thousands of families who have been exposed to this poison.”
Pritzker has previously said he was merely adhering to the state’s flawed property tax system, but he has since changed his stance on the issue. On Tuesday he announced he would refund the money to Illinois taxpayers.
Rauner’s campaign said Pritzker’s offer to pay back the money “is nothing less than an admission of guilt that he committed fraud.”
“A bank robber who gives the money back is still a bank robber,” said a spokesman for Rauner’s campaign.
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