CHICAGO - Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a billionaire businessman, spent about $3 million of his money on state expenses, including staff salaries and renovations, according to a published report.
The Democrat paid about $52,000 for his Capitol office renovations and $850,000 for the Governor’s Mansion. He doubled top aides' salaries. His chief of staff is paid $148,000 by taxpayers and $150,000 by Pritzker, according to The Chicago Tribune.
Pritzker's administration defended the practice as way to benefit Illinois, but good government experts are troubled. Their concerns include private funds not being subject to open records laws and wealthy candidates having an edge.
"We continue to have the same general concerns we’ve expressed in the past about elected officials paying for public functions with private funds, especially at the scale this governor is able to do it,” said Alisa Kaplan, a Reform for Illinois policy director.
Pritzker is the wealthiest sitting politician nationwide, worth an estimated $3.2 billion, according to Forbes.
He's spent money to forward his political agenda, putting $5 million toward supporting a ballot initiative on a constitutional amendment on a graduated-rate income tax.
He spent $171 million in the 2018 gubernatorial race, defeating former Gov. Bruce Rauner. The wealthy Republican businessman also used personal funds, donating to private foundations for the Governor's Mansion and Illinois State Fairgrounds.