Illinois Dem Gov Candidate Who Sought Office from Blagojevich is Major Clinton Funder

J.B. Pritzker and his wife have given millions to Clinton campaigns and causes

J.B. Pritzker and Bill Clinton / Getty Images
• June 3, 2017 5:00 am


J.B. Pritzker, a Democratic candidate for governor in Illinois who was recently reported to have sought political office from former governor and convicted felon Rod Blagojevich, has donated millions to the political campaigns and causes of failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

The Chicago Tribune first reported that Pritzker sought political office in 2008 from Blagojevich, who was sentenced to 14 years in prison for corruption charges stemming from soliciting bribes for political appointments after Barack Obama had won the presidency and left his Illinois Senate seat.

During one phone conversation, Pritzker said that he was not interested in taking over the vacated Senate seat, but rather expressed interest in becoming treasurer of the state, according to FBI wiretaps of phone conversations.

"Ooh, interesting," Blagojevich said. "Let's think about that. You interested in that?"

"Yeah," Pritzker responded, "That's the one I would want."

Blagojevich asked Pritzker for a "significant campaign contributions" during one of the conversations. Blagojevich also informed Pritzker at the time that a spot for attorney general could possibly become available.

Pritzker did not receive either position, as neither the treasurer nor attorney general spots were vacated. Pritzker called Blagojevich in December 2008 to inform him that he was pulling his name out of the running. Just six days after the phone call, Blagojevich was arrested.

Pritzker, a billionaire venture capitalist, along with his wife, Mary Kay, are major Democratic donors and longtime supporters and funders of Hillary Clinton campaigns and causes.

J.B. Pritzker has donated thousands to Clinton political campaigns and to HILLPAC, a leadership PAC that was operated by Clinton during her time in the Senate.

The Pritzkers have given between $10 and $25 million to the Clinton Foundation. They have also donated between $1 and $5 million to the Clinton Health Access Initiative through the Pritzker Family Foundation. The couple additionally made two commitments to the Clinton Global Initiative that totaled $1.3 million.

In 2008, when J.B. was a bundler for the Clinton campaign, the venture capitalist was tapped as chairman of Citizens for Hillary. His wife was placed on Clinton's National Council of Civic Leaders.

The Pritzkers sponsored the second annual Clinton Global Initiative meeting in 2012. One year later, J.B. was appointed to the leadership council of the Too Small To Fail Initiative, an initiative created by the Clinton Foundation.

During the 2016 election cycle, Pritzker gave more than $350,000 to the Hillary Victory Fund, which was a joint fundraising partnership between the Clinton campaign, the Democratic National Committee, and more than 30 state Democratic parties. Pritzker's wife added $330,000 to the committee.

"Look, there was nothing inappropriate about my conversation with the governor," Pritkzer said of the Blagojevich controversy. "It should be unsurprising to people that after 25 years of doing public service in a variety of ways that when an opportunity might have arisen for me to do public service that I would be willing to do that. And that was what the conversation was all about."

Pritzker's campaign did not return requests for comment by press time.