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Sharing the wealth: Pritzker digs into deep pockets to double key staff salaries

Gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker speaks during a press conference outside the Thompson Center, Thursday morning, Oct. 18, 2018. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Billionaire Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker will double the salaries of some of his key staffers — including his three deputy governors — out of his own pockets, his transition team announced just days ahead of inauguration.

This comes after the Gold Coast billionaire’s $146.5 million put him in the record books for pumping more money into a campaign that any other self-financing candidate in U.S. history. Pritzker ultimately put in a whopping $171.5 million into his campaign, which was also used to support Democratic candidates and committees.

And according to Forbes, Pritzker — who has an estimated wealth of $3.2 billion — will hold the moniker of richest politician in American when he takes office. President Donald Trump’s wealth is estimated at $3.1 billion.

Pritzker’s team on Friday said East Jackson Street LLC was created so that the governor-elect could personally compensate some of his staff in addition to their government salaries. Pritzker is doing so “with the goal of attracting and retaining top talent.”

Deputy Gov. Dan Hynes on Thursday will release recommendations from a pension reform task force.
Former state Comptroller Dan Hynes, center, will get a salary pump in his new job as deputy governor. File Photo.
Sun-Times file

“The governor-elect is committed to recruiting top talent to state government to best address the challenges Illinois faces,” Pritzker spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh said in a statement. “As a result, an LLC has been created that will enable the governor-elect to personally compensate some staff in addition to their government salary.”

The double salary will be applied to Pritzker’s chief of staff Anne Caprara, his three deputy governors Dan Hynes, Christian Mitchell and Jesse Ruiz and their special assistants, deputy chiefs of staff and other high-level employees. It will apply to 20 positions, including some that have not been filled.

Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker’s Chief of Staff Anne Caprara, at the Pritzker Campaign headquarters in Chicago last November. | James Foster/For the Sun-Times
Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker’s Chief of Staff Anne Caprara, at the Pritzker Campaign headquarters in Chicago last November. | James Foster/For the Sun-Times

Caprara, who served as Pritzker’s campaign manager, will receive a state salary of $148,000 and $150,000 from the LLC, making her total salary $298,000.

The deputy governors will make $278,000: $139,000 each from the state and the LLC. Senior adviser Nikki Budzinski will make the same.

Pritzker’s deputy chiefs of staff, including Emily Bittner, who will run the communications staff, will make $174,000 and Abudayyeh, his press secretary, will have her state salary of $75,000 doubled to $150,000.

Pritzker’s team likened the doubling to that of former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

Staff who receive the additional pay will be required to publicly report it in line with other public disclosures.


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