Attack ads from Bruce Rauner, Joe Berrios heat up

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Besides the campaign for governor, the race for the Cook County Assessor's Office is now shaping up to be one that could generate a lot of headlines between now and the March primary. Now many who have no direct connection to the race itself are weighing in.

A political storm is hovering over the office of Cook County Assessor Joseph Berrios. He is now facing multiple calls for his resignation, coming on the heels of an investigation raising questions about political influence in the tax appeals process.

Tuesday, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner launched a new attack ad against Berrios and his political allies, linking him to Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan and Democratic gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker.

"Madigan, Pritzker, Berrios, insiders working the system at your expense. Madigan makes millions, Berrios helps him," the attack ad says.

Father Michael Pfleger, concerned about allegations the assessment system helps the rich and hurts the poor, weighed in on Facebook, saying, "I almost NEVER agree with Bruce Rauner, but I did yesterday when he said Cook County Assessor Joe Berrios should Resign."

During a news conference on winter preparedness, the mayor refused to throw salt in the Berrios wound. Instead, he turned the table on the governor.

"I would just say to Governor Rauner, you've never submitted a balanced budget or had one voted on, or negotiated, so people in glass houses shouldn't be throwing stones," Emanuel said. "Second, the voters decide if somebody should stay or go, that's what elections are about."

Berrios, for his part, was letting his new ad do the talking, focusing on his primary opponent Fritz Kaegi.

"They've been called inhuman, immoral, a private gulag, but for-profit prisons only meant profit for Fritz Kaegi," the ad says.

Kaegi called the ad false.

"They have bungled this, how to read a mutual fund filing, just the way they bungled our assessment system, where we find some much incompetence," Kaegi said.

During a news conference on early online tax payments, Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas ducked the question of whether Berrios should resign.

"You know, when I get asked questions like that I think of a song: 'I Could Have Danced All Night.' And I'm going to leave it at that," she said.

The war of words in the assessor's race also had Kaegi demanding an apology from Berrios because of the attack ad.

Berrios' campaign fired more accusations at Kaegi over investments he managed before joining the race.

It's all just a sampling of what this political season is likely to bring for Cook County voters.
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