CHICAGO -- Illinois Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner highlighted Democrat J.B. Pritzker’s latest scandal over tax breaks and toilets at Wednesday's televised debate, Pritzker went after the governor over the Legionnaires' crisis in Quincy.
The candidates for Illinois governor traded barbs during the second debate. Rauner called Pritzker a “trust fund baby” and said if it wasn’t for that, he’d be nothing. Pritzker said in his business, Rauner fired people to make a profit. Both men showed up under fire.
Democratic challenger Pritzker is taking heat for an inspector general’s report saying the billionaire removed toilets from his Gold Coast mansion to improperly receive $330,000 in property tax breaks.
“This was an internal memo that was leaked for political purposes...As it pertains to me there was nothing new in this report,” he said.
“This election is about the future of Illinois and two critical issues: taxes and corruption. Pritzker has now been exposed for the truth,” Rauner said.
Rauner continues to face questions about the Illinois Veterans Home in downstate Quincy where a Legionnaires outbreak turned deadly. Attorney General Lisa Madigan has launched a criminal probe of the Rauner administration’s response.
“Our team did everything they could to make sure our veterans were safe and their healthcare was protected,” Rauner said.
“This was a cover-up all around. Days went by before people were notified. Remember three years went by before the governor acted to do something to protect these veterans,” Pritzker said.
Taxes remain a crucial issue and the candidates have a different approach. Rauner vows to fight against raising taxes while Pritzker is proposing a graduated income tax rate, asking top income earners to pay more.
“He’s defending the most unfair tax system in the nation,” Pritzker said.
Rauner interrupted and said, “I pay my taxes and you don’t even pay yours…If Mr. Pritzker gets in office there’s going to be a giant sucking sound and it won’t be from his toilets. It will be the sound of businesses going down the drain in this state.”
Both men are extremely wealthy, both pumping million into their respective campaigns and subsidizing their political parties. Pritzker said he backs campaign finance reform while Rauner said voters are smart enough to look past money.
“I believe Illinois is worth it to wrest control of the state from Bruce Rauner and the Koch brothers,” Pritzker said.
“Voters are smart. They figure things out. The good news is when you look around the country, the candidate who spends the most doesn’t always win,” Rauner said.
A new poll shows Pritzker will a 22-point lead over Rauner, 49 percent to 27 percent, but that poll was taken before the new information about Pritzker’s toilets.
Conservative Party candidate and state Sen. Sam McCann and Libertarian Grayson "Kash" Jackson are on the November ballot but weren't allowed to participate Wednesday because they didn't reach a 10 percent polling threshold set by the debate hosts.
Rauner and Pritzker meet three times next week including a debate downstate in Quincy.