NOM­I­NEE VIS­ITS METRO-EAST

Re­porters ask J.B. Pritzker ques­tions about a prop­erty tax break on a man­sion he re­ceived.

Belleville News-Democrat (Sunday) - - Front Page - BY JOSEPH BUSTOS jbus­tos@bnd.com Joseph Bustos: 618-239-2451; @JoeBRe­porter

A day af­ter a se­cond de­bate with Gov. Bruce Rauner, and hours af­ter a news con­fer­ence where re­porters re­peat­edly dogged him with ques­tions about a prop­erty tax break on a man­sion he re­ceived, Demo­cratic gu­ber­na­to­rial nom­i­nee J.B. Pritzker said in Belleville he is work­ing to move on past the is­sue.

Pritzker has an­nounced he would re­pay more than $330,000 to Cook County, an amount equiv­a­lent to the tax sav­ings he re­ceived af­ter a nearly 6,400-square-foot man­sion he had pur­chased was deemed un­in­hab­it­able. The toi­lets were re­moved in 2015 and there was no func­tion­ing kitchen. Pritzker has said he plans to ren­o­vate the house some­day, the Chicago Sun-Times has re­ported.

He pur­chased the man­sion next to his house, let it go into dis­re­pair, and his lawyers had ar­gued it was va­cant and un­in­hab­it­able, lead­ing to a more than $5 mil­lion drop in its as­sessed eval­u­a­tion, ac­cord­ing to the Sun-Times.

The Cook County in­spec­tor gen­eral re­ported that Pritzker re­ceived more than $331,432 in tax breaks and re­funds, and called the re­moval of the toi­lets a “scheme to de­fraud tax­pay­ers.”

Pritzker said he’s work­ing to move on from the is­sue.

“Well, we’re in the last 33 days of the elec­tion, I don’t want any­body to be dis­tracted by the real is­sues that are fac­ing work­ing fam­i­lies, so we thought we would pay that money and keep mov­ing be­cause we’ve got a lot to do over next 33 days to make sure our mes­sage and is­sues are get­ting out there,” Pritzker said Thurs­day af­ter speak­ing to cam­paign vol­un­teers at his Belleville field of­fice.

Ear­lier in the day, at a news con­fer­ence where Pritzker crit­i­cized Rauner’s han­dling of the le­gion­naire’s dis­ease is­sues at the Quincy Vet­er­ans Home, re­porters re­peat­edly asked ques­tions about Pritzker’s con­tro­ver­sial prop­erty tax break.

“I wasn’t strug­gling to keep on mes­sage, we were fo­cused on what’s hap­pened, which is

Bruce Rauner’s ad­min­is­tra­tion is now un­der a crim­i­nal probe for the death, the cover up of what hap­pened at the Quincy vet­er­ans home,” Pritzker said.

Ear­lier on Thurs­day, Rauner, the Repub­li­can in­cum­bent, held a news con­fer­ence of his own, to crit­i­cize Pritzker’s prop­erty tax is­sues.

The day of com­pet­ing news con­fer­ences in the Chicago-area came af­ter Rauner and Pritzker met in a tele­vised de­bate where Rauner re­ferred to Pritzker as a “trust-fund baby.”

“This is Bruce Rauner, on the at­tack, des­per­ate in the last month of the cam­paign,” Pritzker said Thurs­day night be­fore at­tend­ing the an­nual St. Clair County Demo­cratic Cen­tral Com­mit­tee Din­ner. “He’s say­ing any­thing, he’ll do any­thing, he’ll pre­tend to be any­thing in or­der to win. I don’t take it per­son­ally. We’re mov­ing for­ward. We’re talk­ing to the work­ing fam­i­lies of Illi­nois.”

DERIK HOLTMANN dholt­mann@bnd.com

J.B. Pritzker, Demo­crat for Illi­nois gover­nor, vis­its his cam­paign head­quar­ters in down­town Belleville.

MAX HER­MAN AP

J.B. Pritzker en­gaged in a "scheme to de­fraud tax­pay­ers” when he re­moved toi­lets from a Chicago man­sion as part of a prop­erty tax re­assess­ment that saved him more than $331,432, ac­cord­ing to me­dia re­ports cit­ing a lo­cal gov­ern­ment re­port by Cook County In­spec­tor Gen­eral Pa­trick Blan­chard.

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