Last year, billionaire Democrat JB Pritzker derided Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for not releasing detailed income tax filings.
“The question is who his investors are, and whether there are any in China or Russia that are affecting his personal income,” Pritzker said of Trump, adding that the future president was “obfuscating in order to avoid being discovered as a liar.”
And then last week, Pritzker released only the first two pages of his income tax returns going back three years. Pritzker told reporters for weeks that he hadn’t released the returns sooner because the task was so “complex.” Um, two pages ain’t “complex.”
Pritzker’s real income appears to come from various private trust funds. He disclosed last week that his trusts paid $25 million in state taxes and $129 million in federal taxes between 2014 and 2016. Pritzker’s personal income taxes were a tiny fraction of that amount. During the same time period, he revealed that he paid only $636,000 in state income taxes and $7.7 million in federal income taxes on his personal income.
He refused to divulge the tax returns for those trusts (which really would be “complex”) because, his campaign claimed, other members of his extended family also benefit from those trusts. OK, fine. But how about divulging the names of his trusts? Tracking down these trusts is a difficult business because they’re shrouded in such secrecy. Names would help.
When a politician refuses to divulge something, particularly after criticizing others for not doing so, you gotta wonder what that person is hiding.
The Pritzker family all but invented off-shore trusts. “No family in the U.S. can copy the Pritzkers in using offshore entities to gain tax advantages,” claimed Forbes magazine back in 2003.
In an attempt to pry Pritzker’s information loose, I reached out to Chris Kennedy’s gubernatorial campaign and asked if they would release the names of the trust funds Kennedy benefits from. They did.
George Skakel was Kennedy’s maternal grandfather. He was from Chicago and founded the fabulously successful Great Lakes Carbon Corporation.
But Kennedy’s a pauper when compared to Pritzker. As mentioned above, Pritzker’s paternal grandfather was a pioneer in using trusts to avoid taxation. Pritzker “took the family fortune from $250,000 in the 1920s to an estimated $2 billion at his death in 1986,” according to Forbes. But when he died in 1986, his heirs told the IRS that AN’s net worth was a mere $25,000. The feds didn’t buy it and the Pritzker family ended up paying the government $9.5 million plus interest nine years later, Forbes reported.
JB Pritzker’s sister Penny, who served as President Barack Obama’s Secretary of Commerce, is mentioned in the so-called “Paradise Papers,” a massive ongoing research project into the uber-wealthy and mega-corporations conducted by journalists all over the world. Ms. Pritzker transferred shares from two Bermuda companies to a company owned by trusts that benefit her children after she was confirmed for the Cabinet post. Her family’s myriad offshore trusts were a big issue during her confirmation hearing.
Alas, Kennedy’s decision to reveal his trust funds’ names did not move the Pritzker campaign one iota closer to disclosing the names of Pritzker’s trusts.
This ain’t over.