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Billionaire Pritzker puts wealth into ‘blind trust’ before taking gov’s office

J.B. Pritzker | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

J.B. Pritzker | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

SPRINGFIELD — Democratic Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker — whose wealth is estimated at $3.2 billion — has placed his investments into a “blind trust” just before taking office, as he had vowed to do during the election.

The steps mean Pritzker will still make money off those investments during his term. But he’ll be removed from decision making and from managing his personal assets.

While the move isn’t a true blind trust, which includes relinquishing ownership control over assets, Pritzker’s staff claims the procedure “goes further” than what Gov. Bruce Rauner did. Rauner’s “blind trust” was a “charade,” staff said.

Before taking office, Rauner and first lady Diana Rauner granted Roundtable Investment Partners exclusive power of attorney, giving the company control of every investment. The governor’s office then said all communications would be directed to an adviser and not to the Rauners. All gains from investments with Illinois state contracts were to be donated to charity.

Pritzker has selected The Northern Trust Company as an independent trustee, and he will not be able to provide input on investments or investment decisions. He’ll also divest from interests in companies that have contracts funded with state money.

Rauner and Pritzker’s “blind trust procedures” are very similar, except Pritzker has given a company control over his assets, instead of one adviser as power of attorney.

Pritzker will “receive enough information to enable him to provide the requisite information as well as to allow him to continue to disclose tax information,” the statement said.

As for his family trusts, Pritzker can’t change or end those trusts. A memo regarding his “blind trust” says he is a “beneficiary of several domestic and foreign trusts.”

“The Governor-Elect has given up as much control and knowledge of these trusts as is possible under the law,” a statement says.

Should Pritzker get a return from an investment held in the family trusts, he’ll make an annual charitable contribution in the amount of the return.

Believed to be the richest man ever to serve as Illinois governor, Pritzker relied on his fortune to help him beat Rauner, pumping a record $171.5 million of his money into the race. That is more than any other self-financing candidate for statewide office in U.S. history.

Pritzker on Thursday also took a dig at the Republican governor for reportedly meeting with a personal business partner at the governor’s mansion, which was revealed via his schedule.

But the governor’s office disputed the allegations, which were made by the business partner in a lawsuit, that the two discussed a personal business deal.

Contributing: AP

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