Pritzker blind trust companies hold $20 billion in state contracts

Pritzker blind trust companies hold $20 billion in state contracts

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s blind trust of investments includes 12 different companies with $20 billion in state contracts since he took office.

After more than three years in office, Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s 2019 promise of separating his personal fortune from state contractors has not aged well.

A Better Government Association investigation found Pritzker’s blind trust contains a dozen companies that obtained more than $20 billion in state contracts since 2019.

Insurance giant Centene Corp. has the biggest state contracts of any company in the trust. Since 2019, a Centene subsidiary was paid $20.6 billion for state Medicaid contracts and health initiatives.

They also pay five lobbying firms specifically for Pritzker, and three additional firms to lobby Pritzker’s staff and state agencies such as the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services.

Before taking office in 2019, Pritzker promised to cut financial ties to state contractors and place his other stocks in a blind trust.

“Governor-elect Pritzker is divesting his personally held direct interests in companies that have contracts that are wholly or partially funded with state dollars,” said attorney Marc Elias in 2019, who advised Pritzker at the time.

The BGA requested information such as Pritzker’s tax returns or a copy of the blind trust agreement, but Pritzker’s staff and campaign office refused. They also won’t say when he bought any stocks or the purchase prices.

After the BGA published a similar report in February, Pritzker denied any knowledge or decision making in handling his trust.

“I’ve divorced myself entirely from making investments, knowing anything about the investments, the amount of investments, etc.,” Pritzker said Feb. 28.

He also noted Centene had government contracts before he took office, which is true. However, Pritzker didn’t disclose his stake in Centene until May 3, 2021.

The BGA distributed its findings to multiple law and ethics professors such as Bridget J. Crawford of Pace University’s law school.

“The term ‘blind trust’ is being used here as a thin shield to conceal the governor’s pursuit of personal profits,” Crawford said. “This is not a blind trust in any meaningful sense of the phrase.”

Pritzker pledged any profits from companies with state contracts would be donated to charity. He has yet to disclose any charitable donations of those profits since taking office. Pritzker campaign spokeswoman Natalie Edelstein said there will be a full accounting disclosure after he leaves office.

With a $3.6 billion fortune, Pritzker is the wealthiest politician in the nation. His net worth has increased by more than 12% since becoming governor, according to Forbes. A blind trust is intended to keep politicians clueless about their investments, not keep the public in the dark.

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