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Smoking out investment gambles of Chris Kennedy and J.B. Pritzker

Illinois gubernatorial candidates J.B. Pritzker (left) and Chris Kennedy shake hands after the Progressive Gubernatorial Forum on Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Big Tobacco. Big Oil. Casinos. The largest defense contractor in the world. And the developer of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Those are just some of the hundreds of investment portfolio areas Democrats J.B. Pritzker and Chris Kennedy list as part of paperwork they were required to file to run for governor.

The disclosure form — aimed at transparency — gives information about entities and investments. But it doesn’t provide full financial disclosure, including how much money is involved or other details.

Kennedy, a businessman and son of former U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, listed companies linked to defense, tobacco and oil interests among the hundreds he named in the economic interest statement he filed Monday with the Illinois secretary of state.

Kennedy’s listings included shares in Philip Morris International, the nation’s largest cigarette manufacturer and part of the 1998 court settlement tobacco companies reached with the attorneys general of 46 states over public health concerns.

Kennedy also lists interests in oil companies ConocoPhillips, Halliburton, Exxon Mobil Corporation, Exelon Corporation and Occidental Petroleum Corporation.

He’s also a shareholder in Honeywell, which provides engineering and aerospace systems both for the military and for private consumers. And he has a stake in Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest defense contractor.

Kennedy also lists stocks in Amazon. Chicago is one of several cities vying for the company’s second headquarters.

Illinois gubernatorial candidates J.B. Pritzker (left) and Chris Kennedy chat before the Progressive Gubernatorial Forum on Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times
Illinois gubernatorial candidates J.B. Pritzker (left) and Chris Kennedy chat before the Progressive Gubernatorial Forum on Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

The Kennedy campaign said Honeywell is a “huge company” — and the most recent filings show it made $4 billion out of $39 billion from defense.

As for Kennedy’s other interests, campaign spokeswoman Rebecca Evans said Kennedy is “proud of his record of leading companies that have created jobs for thousands of Illinois residents and he’s proud of his commitment to creating a greener and more sustainable future in Illinois.” She said under his leadership, the Merchandise Mart and the Apparel Center became LEED-certified, arguing that shows his commitment to energy efficiency and conservation.

“Like millions of Americans, Chris invested in the economy by means of a broad and diverse portfolio of stocks in U.S. companies across many different sectors selected by a financial investment professional,” Evans said.

Pritzker’s extensive filing — 10 pages of hundreds of stocks, mutual funds partnership and membership interests — shows a partnership interest in Energy Transfer Partners LP, a pipeline operator that constructed and is a part-owner of the Dakota Access Pipeline, which carries oil underground from North Dakota all the way to an oil tank farm near Patoka, Ill.

The project sparked protests, hundreds of arrests and still faces a legal challenge. President Donald Trump in January signed an executive order to advance the pipeline. Construction had been delayed amid protests over opposition from Native Americans over sacred ground — and President Barack Obama denied the company a permit it needed to build the pipeline last year. Pritzker also lists stocks in three energy companies that use fracking, Diamondback Energy Inc., PDC Energy Inc. and RSP Permian Inc.

Pritzker also has a partnership interest in Niagara Casino Group, LP and a stock in A.N.P. Gaming Corporation. The Pritzker family has part ownership of the Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin. Pritzker, too, invests in big oil, with stocks in Exxon Mobil Corp. and Chevron Corp.

And in a war of hotel chains, Pritzker lists a partnership interest in Hyatt Hotels Corporation, of which he is an heir, while Kennedy is a shareholder for hotel competitor Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc.

Asked specifically about Pritzker’s partnership interest and stocks in Big Oil, energy and gaming, Pritzker’s campaign said the candidate would ensure no conflicts exist if he’s elected.

“JB personally and through his businesses and trusts has both active and passive investments in many different economic sectors,” Pritzker spokeswoman Galia Slayen said. “If elected, JB is committed to putting in place best practices to ensure that no conflicts ever exist.”

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