Gov. JB Pritzker's blind trust intersects with state contracts, Better Government Association finds

ByABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Saturday, September 3, 2022
Gov. Pritzker's blind trust intersects with state contracts, BGA finds
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What is a blind trust? The Better Government Association took a closer look at the personal investments of Governor JB Pritzker.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A Better Government Association investigation is taking a closer look at Gov. JB Pritzker's personal investments.

When Pritzker took office, he promised to shift his portfolio into a blind trust to avoid conflicts of interest. But the BGA's report found Pritzker's blind trust includes interests in companies that earned more than $20 billion in state business since he took office. In some cases, state dollars flowed to companies registered to lobby Pritzker, who as the state's chief executive, held enormous sway over their contracts.

In a statement to the BGA, the governor's campaign said, in part, "Gov. Pritzker's trust is blind. This means he is not a part of any decisions, nor does he have any information regarding any investments. He receives no regular reporting on what the trustees and investment advisers decide to purchase and plays no role in any investment decisions. Period."

Authorities on trust law and government ethics told the BGA that because Pritzker must disclose each year what is in his blind trust, his promise to avoid conflicts of interest by remaining blind to his investments was both impractical and oversold.

"If you know what you put into the trust, and you learn every year what's in it, the experts told us the trust simply isn't blind," said BGA Investigative Reporter David Jackson.

Pritzker's campaign provided the following statement to ABC7:

"Any Illinoisan who has ever worked with a financial advisor would agree that if they had no idea what their financial advisor was doing with their money, they would feel blind. Under the blind trust rules the Governor has in place, Illinois voters know as much about the Governor's investments as he does. The BGA continues to have trouble understanding the basic facts. The Governor did divest his personal holdings in companies with state contracts before he even created his blind trust and entered office. Anything the trustees have done since then, he has had no say in. The Governor has a legal obligation to file a complete and correct tax return and a complete and correct Statement of Economic Interests. If BGA and its so-called experts had their way, Governor Pritzker wouldn't even have the information he needs to meet these legal requirements. Imagine the story BGA would write then."

You can read the BGA's full report on their website.