New Rauner TV ad seeks to flush Pritzker out on property taxes

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Screen image from Gov. Bruce Rauner TV ad dramatizing the removal of toilets from a Gold Coast mansion J.B. Pritzker owns.

Democrat gubernatorial nominee J.B. Pritzker is the “Porcelain Prince” in a new ad Gov. Bruce Rauner’s campaign is airing to remind voters of a hefty property tax break the billionaire received by ripping toilets out of a Gold Coast mansion he bought next-door to his own $14.5 million home.

And Pritzker fired back soon after with a TV ad reminding voters Rauner owns nine homes and has appealed his property taxes 22 times.

The Rauner campaign is delving into new territory in the new ad, despite the governor often accusing Pritzker of being a “tax dodger.” The governor’s campaign had focused most of its advertising dollars highlighting unflattering conversations caught on FBI wiretap between Pritzker and former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

The statewide ad, which will begin airing Tuesday, features actors portraying workers taking multiple toilets out of a mansion. It begins with a shot of a toilet — with a crown placed atop it — and a portrait of Pritzker. And it ends with a man in a black suit sitting on a toilet and reading a newspaper outside a massive home, surrounded by toilets.

“Porcelain Prince J.B. Pritzker,” the narrator says. “Lower taxes for him, higher taxes for you.”

The ad refers to a May 2017 Chicago Sun-Times investigation that found Pritzker saved $230,000 in property taxes by leaving the home next door in disrepair. Pritzker bought a three-story home in the Gold Coast for $14.5 million in May 2006, then bought a smaller mansion next door for $3.7 million. The Sun-Times reported Pritzker’s attorneys argued the smaller home was “vacant and uninhabitable,” with disconnected toilets” and “no functioning bathrooms or kitchen” — leading to the hefty tax breaks.

Screen image from Gov. Bruce Rauner TV ad dramatizing the removal of toilets from a Gold Coast mansion J.B. Pritzker owns.

Screen image from Gov. Bruce Rauner TV ad dramatizing the removal of toilets from a Gold Coast mansion J.B. Pritzker owns.

In Pritzker’s new ad, the campaign says Rauner “wants to raise your property taxes,” claiming the “Rauner budget” — the budget the governor proposed earlier this year — would have cost taxpayers more than a $1 billion. That’s in reference to a pension cost shift the governor favored which would have made local districts pay their pension costs, which some believe would have led to higher property taxes.

The ad begins with a map highlighting Rauner’s homes across the country.

“Bruce Rauner, four years of failure is enough,” the narrator says.

The Rauner campaign said the appeals referenced in the ads were done by a condo association, and not by Rauner himself. And they accused Pritzker of fibbing.

“Pritzker is lying to Illinoisans to cover up the fact that he ripped toilets out of his mansion to cheat taxpayers,” Rauner spokesman Will Allison said. “Governor Rauner has always supported property tax freezes, which Pritzker opposes.”

After the toilet story ran, the Pritzker campaign tried to muddy the waters by noting that both Rauner and Democratic primary candidate Chris Kennedy also appealed their property tax assessments, as “50,000 other property owners in Cook County do every year,” and that Kennedy received a reduction, too. That accusation had Kennedy on the defense and calling Pritzker’s break a “tax scam,” and claiming that his tax break was nothing like what the average homeowners get.

The Pritzker campaign also accused Rauner of trying to divert attention from his own failures as governor.

Pritzker began his post-primary TV ad spending by continuing his “Rauner Failed Me” series – featuring Illinois residents who say they’ve been negatively impacted by Rauner’s term.

Both Pritzker and Rauner began airing their first post-primary TV ads on June 5 in a race that is likely to become the most expensive campaigns in U.S. history. Rauner still has about $39.6 million cash on hand in his campaign fund, while Pritzker has $38.1 million, contribution filings show. But both men can replenish those funds from their personal fortunes whenever they wish.

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