Ads flood airwaves as IL billionaires battle over proposed graduated income tax amendment

Craig Wall Image
Friday, October 23, 2020
Billionaires battle over proposed graduated income tax amendment
The airwaves are being flooded with ads both for and against the proposed graduated income tax amendment as billionaires Gov. JB Pritzker and Ken Griffin fund opposing sides.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The battle of the billionaires over the graduated income tax amendment is heating up with the election now just 11 days away.

It comes as the airwaves and social media are being bombarded with ads for and against the tax.

Voters are making important choices about the politicians they want to represent them, but they will also have a chance to vote on changing the state constitution to move from a flat tax to a graduated income tax, where the wealthy pay more.

"In these times, these very challenging economic times, when you start talking about tax of any kind, people turn off," said ABC7 Political Analyst Laura Washington.

RELATED: Gov. JB Pritzker outlines proposed graduated income tax

Gov. JB Pritzker outlined the goals that his proposed graduate income tax plan would achieve.

"(It) requires 60% of the people that vote to say yes, which is a huge hurdle; or more than 50% of everybody that votes. That's a more difficult task as well," said Thom Serafin, Political Analyst.

The flood of support in ads for the tax is almost entirely being funded by the $56 million donation by Governor JB Pritzker. Ads opposing the amendment are largely being funded by fellow billionaire Ken Griffin, who has given more than $46 million to an anti-tax coalition.

RELATED: IL billionaires Gov. Pritkzer, Ken Griffin fight over state's proposed graduated tax amendment

Citadel CEO Ken Griffin donated $20 million to the Coalition to Stop the Proposed Tax Hike Amendment on Aug 27.

"I think there's misrepresentations and spin on both sides in these ads, and it's very difficult for voters to be able to decipher what's real and what's factual," Washington said.

Griffin, the founder and CEO of Citadel, sent an email to employees, obtained by ABC7 and confirmed by a company spokesman, slamming Pritzker.

The email said in part:

"I am not willing to stand by as, once again, spineless politicians try to sell a trick disguised as a solution. Particularly not from a Governor who, having inherited a great deal of wealth, has worked so diligently to avoid paying taxes himself."

A source close to Griffin said he paid more than $100 million in state income taxes last year. Pritzker and his wife reportedly paid just over $118,000.

RELATED: Battle over proposed IL graduated income tax continues as both side blame other for deception

Friday afternoon Jordan Abudayyeh, press secretary for the governor, responded in an email saying:

"Personal attacks and lies don't change the facts. Governor Pritzker has made major strides repairing the damage that Ken Griffin's friend Bruce Rauner inflicted on Illinois and he is committed to making sure that the middle class doesn't pay to clean up their mess."

Supporters of the tax change said only the top 3% will pay more, while opponents argue it opens the door for taxes to be raised on the middle class down the road.

Newsviews: Graduated Tax Amendment


On Election Day, Illinois voters will be asked to vote on an amendment to the state's constitution.


On Election Day, Illinois voters will be asked to vote on an amendment to the state's constitution.