Report raises questions about Pritzker's off-shore holdings

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A Chicago Tribune report questions J.B. Pritzker's off-shore holdings. (WLS)

Less than a week before Tuesday's primary election, a published report raises questions about J.B. Pritzker's off-shore holdings and whether he's been sheltering money to avoid paying taxes.

Opponents Chris Kennedy and Daniel Biss jumped on the issue ahead of a Wednesday night forum on WTTW, which is the first debate of the top three Democratic gubernatorial candidates.

"I think he needs to explain how he's cheated us out of taxes and make clear what's gone on with the off-shoring," Kennedy said.

With Pritzker leads in the most recent polls, a Chicago Tribune investigative report published on Wednesday gave the other candidates some ammunition.

The Tribune report found a paper trail suggesting Pritzker, a billionaire and heir to the Hyatt hotel fortune, had off-shore holdings he did control, which is contrary to his claims that it's all in trusts set up by his grandfather in the 1960s.

Experts said those off-shore accounts allow the wealthy to avoid paying taxes.

"It tells us that J.B. Pritzker has been lying to us about his off-shore money, it tells us he's been scamming the system, he's not prepared to level with voters. We should not be surprised," Biss said.

Pritzker, like his rivals has campaigned on the need for a progressive state income tax to make the wealthy pay more.

Kennedy, who likens the campaign to a job interview with the voters, called Pritzker a serial tax cheat.

"I think the big issue is around trust, I think there's a fairness issue as well. But the trust issue, I think, is disqualifying, honestly, never hire anybody who lies to you during a job interview," Kennedy said.

Pritzker's campaign issued a statement saying he's been transparent about his finances: "Today's article only confirms what he has always said. First, generations ago there were trusts set up offshore by JB's family and JB does not manage or oversee them. Second, as the Tribune details, any distributions made from those trusts are directed to charity and JB has never received a personal disbursement from any trust located offshore."

Pritzker, whose net worth is estimated at around $3.5 billion has already poured $63 million of his own money into his campaign, which he is self-funding.
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politicsprimary electiongovernordemocratstaxesSpringfieldIllinois
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