CHICAGO (CBS) — For the final time before next Tuesday’s primary, the three leading Democrats running for governor met Wednesday evening in a televised debate.
And the major topic was whether billionaire J.B. Pritzker has stashed much of his wealth offshore to avoid taxes.
For this entire campaign, Pritzker has maintained overseas trusts were established long ago by his family and any proceeds go straight to charity. But, he was on the defense about whether some of the companies were set up more recently, and whether he’s benefiting.
“There’s nothing new in that story in the Tribune,” he said, commenting on a story that claims Pritzker has an interest in 11 offshore companies that were set up within the last decade.
“J.B. Prtizker set up these companies offshore probably to avoid taxes and spent the entire last year lying about it,” said Daniel Biss, candidate for governor.
Candidate Chris Kennedy also chimed in, saying, “What he’s done is he’s avoid paying taxes in the U.S. Every taxpayer in the U.S. now pays more in income tax because he paid less.”
For his part, Pritzker attacked the progressive credentials of Biss.
“Who has accepted $350,000 from people who do business with the state just in the last few weeks?” Pritzker said. “People who gave money to Bruce Rauner — hundreds of thousands from Springfield insiders.”
To which Biss said, “I’m not going to sit here and be lectured on who’s a progressive by the guy who’s storing money offshore to avoid taxes and profiting off the Dakota Pipeline.”
Pritzker also lashed out at Kennedy for his record as University of Illinois chairman. “He raised tuition five times and caused in state students to leave the state.”
“The reason minority enrollment declined at the University of Illinois was something called the great recession,” Kennedy retorted.
Those who are widely believed to trail Pritzker were trying hard to raise more questions about his fitness for office. We’ll know if they succeeded in six days.