Gov. J.B. Pritzker for the first time Friday acknowledged his wife and daughter were in Florida before Illinois’ statewide stay-at-home order took effect in March and just recently returned to Chicago.
He said he was being “very private and very reserved” about his family “because there are threats to my safety and to their safety.
“You have seen that there are people that stand outside the Thompson Center and stand outside the Capitol in Springfield, holding, I mean, hateful signs that reference me personally and that suggest, if not say, but suggest the potential for violence,” he said.
On April 29, Pritzker testily responded to a question about a Patch.com report that his wife and family had gone to Florida amid the governor’s stay-at-home orders.
“My official duties have nothing to do with my family. So, I’m not going to answer that question. It's inappropriate and I find it reprehensible,” he said of stories about his family.
Some elected officials in Missouri and neighboring Illinois were at odds Friday as Congress debated additional aid to states because of the coronavirus.
That response prompted an outcry from Republican and right-leaning groups that the Democratic governor’s own wife wasn’t heeding the mandates of Pritzker’s stay-at-home order, though Pritzker never imposed an outright travel ban for residents.
“If his family can’t even heed the guidance of his own stay at home order, how does he expect Illinois voters to do the same?” said a May 4 email from the Republican National Committee with the subject line: “Governor Pritzker can’t take the heat.”
Pritzker said on Friday he hoped that an unnamed Republican super political action committee “that’s pushing stories like this about my family, would stop doing it because they are putting my children and family in danger.”
But he also acknowledged his family had only recently left Florida, where they had been staying since at least early March, before his stay-at-home order was issued. He owns an equestrian farm there.
Pritzker owns a horse farm in Racine, Wisconsin, and he indicated that his family was there.
“I just will say we have a working farm. They’re there now. There are animals on that farm, that it’s an essential function to take care of animals at a farm, so that’s what they’re doing,” he said.
A Pritzker spokeswoman later clarified that the family is at home in Chicago and have visited the farm but haven’t stayed there.
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