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The Spin: Jeffrey Epstein court records mention Tom Pritzker, cousin to Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Penny Pritzker

Chicago Tribune

Tuesday, August 13, 2019  |  Article  |  Lisa Donovan

Pritzker, J.B. , Sexual Harassment (96)

On the same day Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed sweeping anti-harassment legislation, another Pritzker was among the wealthy business and world leaders mentioned in newly unsealed court records tied to alleged sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein in New York. That was Friday. Today, a spokeswoman for the governor said he wasn’t aware his cousin Tom Pritzker knew Epstein.

 

Will this idea of a third airport in the region take flight thanks to Amazon?

 

And we’re still on Blago watch — even as President Donald Trump seemingly pulled back on whether he will be commuting disgraced former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s prison stay midway through a 14-year sentence for his public corruption conviction. But what a show! On Sunday, a shirtless Blagojevich exercised outside the federal prison he’s being housed at in Colorado — in view of at least this news outlet.

 

Welcome to The Spin.

 

 Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks to the media after holding a ceremony where he signed the state budget and fair tax legislation at the State of Illinois Building in Chicago on June 5.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks to the media after holding a ceremony where he signed the state budget and fair tax legislation at the State of Illinois Building in Chicago on June 5. (Terrence Antonio James / Chicago Tribune)

Pritzker signs anti-harassment law same day his cousin is mentioned in Jeffrey Epstein case records

On Friday, the governor signed an anti-sexual harassment measure but several journalists questioned why it wasn’t on his public schedule, giving reporters a heads-up so they could attend the bill signing and do what they do: pose questions.

 

What the law does — The Tribune’s Dan Petrella spells it out here: “The legislation, approved this spring without opposition in either chamber of the General Assembly, prohibits employers from requiring workers to sign nondisclosure and arbitration agreements related to harassment or discrimination. Among other provisions, it also extends protections against sexual harassment and discrimination to contract workers, requires all employers provide annual anti-sexual harassment training, and mandates that hotels and casinos equip certain employees with panic buttons.”

 

The background — The bill signing comes on the heels of powerful House Speaker Michael Madigan’s government and political operations facing criticism over the handling of sexual harassment complaints. As Petrella noted, Madigan dismissed a top political operative following a campaign worker’s allegations of harassment.

 

That campaign worker, Alaina Hampton, says she’s paid dearly for speaking out about the allegations. And she had her own thoughts about why the bill signing wasn’t public, saying via Twitter, “Because no one wants to answer questions about me.”

 

 

Alaina Hampton

@alainaxhampton

 Because no one wants to answer questions about me https://twitter.com/shelbybremer/status/1159924015760379905 …

 

Shelby Bremer

@shelbybremer

but why wasn’t this on your public schedule https://twitter.com/GovPritzker/status/1159868287720808448 …

 

5

3:37 PM - Aug 9, 2019

Twitter Ads info and privacy

See Alaina Hampton's other Tweets

More Madigan: The powerful House speaker, who is head of the state Democratic Party and who must work with Gov. Pritzker, issued a congratulatory news release on the bill signing. Read Petrella’s full story here.

 

Later Friday, court documents unsealed in New York painted what was described as a chilling sex trafficking operation by millionaire investor Jeffrey Epstein, who a day later was found dead of an apparent suicide in a Manhattan jail cell. Those documents mentioned

the names of some prominent politicians and businessmen, including Hyatt hotels magnate Tom Pritzker, 69. All involved have denied wrongdoing. Click here to read the full story by the Miami Herald’s Julie K. Brown and Sarah Blaskey.

 

Statement from the governor’s office today: “Gov. Pritzker is rarely in touch with this side of the family, and he was not aware if his cousin even knew Jeffrey Epstein,” spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh wrote in an emailed statement. “The governor himself has never had any contact with Epstein. The governor condemns the sexual exploitation and abuse of young girls and is disgusted by the allegations against Epstein.”

 

Pritzker family tree: Read the Pritzker family tree that the Tribune put together in 2011, which noted that Tom Pritzker’s primary residence was in Chicago. At the time, the family tree noted that Tom Pritzker, who is Hyatt Hotels Corp.'s executive chairman of the board of directors, was a married father of three.

 

Bill signing: History lessons on LGBTQ contributions to be required in public schools starting next year under a measure signed into law by the governor. Read the Tribune story here.

 

Rod Blagojevich jogs in Colorado; Patti Blagojevich continues Chicago campaign for his release

On Saturday, Blagojevich hit the outdoor running track at the federal prison in Littleton, Colorado, outside of Denver, the same day his wife, Patti Blagojevich, rode with the Rev. Jesse Jackson in the South Side Bud Billiken Parade, the annual African American back-to-school celebration. She has been lobbying for her husband’s early release.

 

Recent history: The Rev. Jackson and his son former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., himself a convicted felon, wrote a letter to President Trump in July on Blagojevich’s behalf seeking a full pardon and release. In the past few weeks, Blagojevich was on the White House radar. The New York Times reported that Trump’s son-in-law and presidential adviser Jared Kushner was pushing for clemency, thinking it would appeal to Democrats. Other advisers held their nose and suggested a commutation was the politically wise approach.

 

Reminder: African American supporters were a big part of Blagojevich’s base; nearly 94 percent of African American voters backed him in his first successful bid for governor back in 2002.

 

Strategy? Patti Blagojevich may be courting the very same African American voters Trump, as Politico and The New York Times are reporting, is seeking to woo in 2020.

 

Old plan to build Peotone airport has new spin: e-commerce

From the Tribune’s Mary Wisniewski: “Plans for a south suburban airport are back on the political front burner, this time with talk about how it could be used by e-commerce giants like Amazon.

 

“The idea of an airport in Peotone, located in the rural exurbs 44 miles south of Chicago, has been debated for decades. The proposal was revived in this year’s Illinois budget, with $162 million allocated toward road improvements that would connect I-57 to the proposed airport site, along with an environmental review and the completion of a master plan.” Click here to read why it has a real shot this time.

 

Cook County’s Provident Hospital may get a new, smaller facility

From the Tribune’s Lisa Schencker: "Bronzeville’s historic Provident Hospital may get a new $240 million facility at a time when many community hospitals are struggling to stay relevant and financially viable.

 

 “Cook County Health plans to invest in a new eight-story facility, pending approval by the state Health Facilities and Services Review Board. The new hospital will sit just west of the current one but have the same mailing address.”

 

While the health system is bankrolled with taxpayer subsidies, county officials say the new facility will be paid for with patient revenue, not local tax dollars. Click here to read the full story.

 

Weekend gun violence may be down, but tell that to folks on the West Side

The Tribune’s Alice Yin offers the depressing details: “At least 47 people were shot, four fatally, from Friday evening to Monday morning. The shootings were reported as far south as the West Pullman neighborhood and as far north as Rogers Park. The youngest victim was 8, the oldest 69. The Harrison Police District on the West Side saw the highest number of people shot, 14, slightly less than a third of the weekend total, according to data kept by the Tribune.”

 

And Mayor Lightfoot is meeting with police brass before addressing reporters on the topic later today. As the Tribune’s been reporting, a simmering political feud over crime fighting continues between two camps: Lightfoot and the Police Department vs. County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and those in the court system. We’ll see if there’s another volley in the back-and-forth.

 

A year after 75 were shot over a weekend, Chicago police have not solved most of the attacks: ‘We’re not happy. We’re not pleased’ The mayor likely will have something to say about this piece too by the Tribune’s Jeremy Gorner, Annie Sweeney and Madeline Buckley. Click here to read the story.

 

Thanks for reading The Spin, the Tribune’s politics newsletter. Sign up here to have it delivered to your inbox weekday afternoons. Have a tip? Email host Lisa Donovan at ldono

about this piece too by the Tribune’s Jeremy Gorner, Annie Sweeney and Madeline Buckley. Click here to read the story.

 

Thanks for reading The Spin, the Tribune’s politics newsletter. Sign up here to have it delivered to your inbox weekday afternoons. Have a tip? Email host Lisa Donovan at ldonovan@chicagotribune.com.