Potential 2024 Dem Candidate’s Toilet Troubles May Have Left an Uncleanable Stain on His Record

When the word “toilet” comes up in conjunction with a potential political run, that’s never a good thing. Give Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker some credit, then, for originality: The reason why the commode might end up sinking his 2024 presidential ambitions aren’t just metaphorical or scatological. Instead, they have more to do with a dubious way the Democrat billionaire and heir to the Hyatt hotel chain fortune managed to dodge the tax man. According to Fox News, the venture capitalist and his wife reportedly removed the toilets from a second mansion they owned in Chicago in 2015 so they could write the property off as “uninhabitable” and lower its value considerably. Until recent weeks, Pritzker hadn’t been considered a likely 2024 contender if President Joe Biden decides to step aside and not run for another term; the assumption was that Vice President Kamala Harris and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg were co-front-runners and there were worries Pritzker might face a difficult re-election battle against Richard Irvin, a moderate Republican with major corporate dollars behind him. However, Illinois primary voters selected Darren Bailey, a more conservative candidate viewed as less of a threat to Pritzker, even in a red-wave year. (The most recent poll, taken earlier this month, showed Pritzker with a 10-point lead over Bailey.) In addition, poor poll numbers for Harris have thrown a host of other names into the mix, Pritzker being one of them. (At The Western Journal, we noted this all could have been precluded had the Democrats realized how unfit for office Joe Biden was from the beginning. We’ve been chronicling his gaffes and mental decline since the beginning of the 2020 election cycle — and how they’ve only gotten worse. We’ll continue to bring America the truth. You can help us by subscribing.) On Sunday, The Wall Street Journal noted that Pritzker “has spent time away from his home state to rally Democrats in Maine, New Hampshire and most recently Florida, where he gave the keynote address at an annual party gala last week.” “Mr. Pritzker’s visit last month to New Hampshire, which hosts the first-in-the-nation primary, and to Florida this week, when he … criticized [Florida GOP Gov. Ron] DeSantis, have fueled speculation within the party about his ambitions,” the Journal noted. Alas, those ambitions could be in the toilets — both literally and figuratively. In 2018, Fox News noted, a report from Cook County Inspector General Patrick Blanchard said that the toilet removal, which meant Pritzker and his wife received over $300,000 in property tax breaks, was “part of a scheme for obtaining money by means of false representations.” Cook County, the report said, “ultimately fell victim to a scheme to defraud.” According to the report, in 2015, the future governor and his wife hired a contracting company to take out five of the toilets from the Chicago mansion just before its inspection. That move, Fox reported, “lowered the 6,378-square-foot mansion’s assessed value from $6.3 million to about $1.1 million.” After the assessment was completed, the same contractor was hired to reinstall a toilet in the “hangout/meeting area.” What’s more, an email from a project manager said Pritzker’s wife had specifically requested that workers “remove all toilets from the house in order for it to be considered an ‘uninhabitable structure’ in 2015. Then, after the house was to be reassessed, a toilet was to be put back in on the first floor, according to the email’s instructions.”

IG Report – Pritzker by Scott Fornek

Because of what Blanchard called the “scheme to defraud,” it “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.” At the time, Pritzker pledged to pay back the taxes — but also noted it broke during the final stretch of the 2018 gubernatorial campaign and implied it was political. “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,” he said. However, a federal investigation ensued in 2019; the couple’s lawyers maintained their innocence in the matter. In 2020, the same contractor that removed the toilets was also awarded a $9 million contract from the Army Corps of Engineers to convert a disused Chicago hospital into a care center for COVID-19 patients, again dredging up the issue. The issue of the missing toilets likely won’t be a hindrance to Pritzker beating Bailey. However, if he’s going to make a long-shot presidential run, it’s certainly not going to help. There’s nothing that stands out about Pritzker, other than the fact he hasn’t been profoundly incompetent as governor of Illinois. Of course, given that the two front-runners are Harris and Buttigieg — who have mangled too many policy items to effectively list in anything shorter than a graduate thesis — that’s a qualifier. However, remember the damage done to Pete Buttigieg’s 2020 presidential hopes when fellow candidate Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren lambasted him on a debate stage for holding a campaign event in a “wine cave.” Those two words — which painted Buttigieg as the choice of upper-class white Democrats — arguably did as much damage as any of the attacks on Buttigieg’s scant experience, which consisted of being the mayor of the 308th-most-populous city in the United States. If that’s enough to cause a wound during a Democratic presidential debate, removing five toilets from your second mansion to lower the property value and pay lower taxes sounds a lot like a fatal blow. This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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