Let’s talk homeownership. It’s a tricky business, but once you get the hang of things, the complexities of the housing market begin to become a bit less nebulous. While most people just want a nice home to call their own whilst raising a family, others use them like any reasonable capitalist might: to get money.
This is never truer than when entangled with the political landscape, thus our story brings us to the Illinois gubernatorial race. Currently, the main story of the race isn’t political at all, it’s the Democratic nominee’s home toilets. Yes, the toilets. Or lack thereof.
J.B. Pritzker is the Democratic nominee in the race for governor, and he is an incredibly wealthy person. Like, venture capitalist and heir to the fortune of the Hyatt Hotels type wealthy. His estimated worth is somewhere around $3.2 billion.
As billionaires often do, he and his wife own a mansion in Chicago. While 35% of people fixing up their home completely remodel the home they already own in order to give things a little refresher, in 2007, Pritzker and his wife decided they’d just buy another mansion. That mansion was directly next door to the one they already owned. The rationale here is unclear.
Cute, right? His and her mansions next door to each other, how quaint. It’s not quite the billionaire fairy tale because they let the new place they’d just spent $3.7 million on fall into shambles. What did Pritzker do with his whoopsie daisy impulse buy? He had the mansion’s five toilets torn out. After that, it was labeled uninhabitable and the value of the mansion plunged from $6.3 million to $1.1 million. If this still isn’t making sense to you, bear with our exploration of billionaire logic.
The county later discovered that it was an elaborate ploy to save him hundreds of thousands of dollars in property taxes on the now devalued, toilet-less mansion.
“…the County ultimately fell victim to a scheme to defraud … which resulted in the property owner ultimately receiving property tax refunds totaling $132,747.18 for the years 2012, 2013 and 2014, as well as additional tax savings of $198,684.85 for the years 2015 and 2016,” noted the inspector general.
Yes, in spending $3.7 million on another mansion that he allowed to fall into ruin, he removed the toilets to save a few hundred thousand dollars. He was caught and Pritzker brushed it off saying he’d pay $330,000 to the treasurer’s office by the end of the week. No big deal.
“A bank robber who gives the money back is still a bank robber,” said a campaign spokesman for Pritzker’s opponent Bruce Rauner.
This whole toilet fiasco is being used as political fodder, with the Republican nominee Bruce Rauner labeling Pritzker in an ad campaign as the porcelain prince of tax avoidance. Pritzker is more or less shrugging this whole thing off because the money doesn’t matter and he holds a 22-point lead over Rauner.
You’d think that a future representative of the people of Illinois would be more concerned about losing votes and damaging his reputation or at least engaging the people across a variety of channels. Nope. Politics is as politics does. Just toilets, billionaires, and a system just as crappy.
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