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Capitol Fax - Rich Miller

Kennedy turns over trust names, but Pritzker won’t

J.B. also gives out only 2-page tax summaries

J.B. also gives out only 2-page tax summaries

Last year, billionaire Democrat J.B. Pritzker derided Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for not releasing detailed income tax filings.

“The question is who his investors are, and whether there are any in China or Russia that are affecting his personal income,” Pritzker said of Trump, adding that the future president was “obfuscating in order to avoid being discovered as a liar.”

And then last week, Pritzker released only the first two pages of his income tax returns going back 3 years. Pritzker told reporters for weeks that he hadn’t released the returns sooner because the task was so “complex.”

Um, two pages ain’t “complex.”

Pritzker’s real income appears to come from various private trust funds. He disclosed last week that his trusts paid $25 million in state taxes and $129 million in federal taxes between 2014 and 2016.

Pritzker’s personal income taxes were a tiny fraction of that amount. During the same time period, he revealed that he paid only $636,000 in state income taxes and $7.7 million in federal income taxes on his personal income.

He refused to divulge the tax returns for those trusts (which really would be “complex”) because, his campaign claimed, other members of his extended family also benefit from those trusts.

OK, fine. But how about divulging the names of his trusts? Tracking down these trusts is a difficult business because they’re shrouded in such secrecy. Names would help.

When a politician refuses to divulge something, particularly after criticizing others for not doing so, you gotta wonder what that person is hiding.

The Pritzker family all but invented off-shore trusts. “No family in the U.S. can copy the Pritzkers in using offshore entities to gain tax advantages,” claimed Forbes Magazine back in 2003.

But, try as I might, I couldn’t persuade Pritzker’s campaign to release the names of his trust funds.

So, in an attempt to pry Pritzker’s information loose, I reached out to Chris Kennedy’s gubernatorial campaign and asked whether they would release the names of the trust funds Kennedy benefits from.

They did.

Here’s the list: Robert F. Kennedy 1959 Trust; The Christopher G. Kennedy 1987 Trust; The Sheila B. Kennedy 2011 Trust; the Christopher G. Kennedy 2001 Trusts for Children; Trusts U/W George Skakel and Ann Skakel; Trusts U/W Robert F. Kennedy; The Scudder Trust; Christopher G. Kennedy 1997 Irrevocable Life Insurance Trust; [street address deleted by me] Melrose Avenue Resident Trust I and Trust II and [street address deleted by me] Island Avenue Residence Trust I and Trust II.

George Skakel was Kennedy’s maternal grandfather. He was from Chicago and founded the fabulously successful Great Lakes Carbon Corporation. “U/W” is an acronym for “under the will of” and means it was created as part of somebody’s last will and testament. The Scudder Trust appears to invest in renewable energy and environmental stuff.

Alas, Kennedy’s decision to reveal his trust funds’ names did not move the Pritzker campaign one iota closer to disclosing the names of Pritzker’s trusts.

Note to readers: Rich Miller also publishes Capitol Fax, a daily political newsletter, and