Pritzker calls for campaign finance reform after spending $323M on campaigns

Pritzker calls for campaign finance reform after spending $323M on campaigns

Gov. J.B. Pritzker told Harvard students self-financing political campaigns isn’t the answer, calling for campaign finance reform. Pritzker self-financed both of his gubernatorial campaigns for a total of $323 million.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker advocated for campaign finance reform at a student forum hosted by Harvard University recently.

“Do I think the self-funding campaigns are the answer to politics? No, absolutely not,” Pritzker said. “We need campaign finance reform both in Illinois and nationally.”

Pritzker spent $323 million between his 2018 and 2022 campaigns. On top of self-financing his campaign, Pritzker donated $24 million to the Democratic Governors Association.

Pritzker also showed how to skirt campaign finance rules. The two biggest donors for Illinois Supreme Court Justices Mary Kay O’Brien and Elizabeth Rochford were “JB for Governor” and the “Jay Robert Pritzker Revocable Trust.”

By donating through his trust as well as his campaign committee, Pritzker circumvented a campaign finance law he himself signed prohibiting “any single person” from donating more than $500,000 to a state judicial campaign.

Now the Illinois Supreme Court is hearing arguments challenging the SAFE-T Act in which Pritzker is listed as a defendant, just a few months after donating $2 million to two of the justices’ campaigns.

Pritzker’s donations come through three sources:

J.B. Pritzker (personal)

2022 donations: $110,006,500

Top recipient: J.B. for Governor ($110 million)

J.B. for Governor

2022 donations: $26,752,360

Top recipient: Illinois Democratic Party ($11.5 million)

Jay Robert Pritzker Revocable Trust

2022 donations: $1,000,000

Top recipient: O'Brien for Supreme Court Judge and
Elizabeth M Rochford for Illinois Supreme Court 2022 ($500,000 each)

Pritzker has also donated to out-of-state gubernatorial races, including $250,000 to Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and $100,000 to Charlie Crist Jr., the democratic challenger to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

When Chicago hosts the 2024 Democratic Convention, Pritzker has said he will help cover the costs of the convention, which could run from $80 million to $100 million.

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