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Duke trustee to repay $330,000 in taxes after removing toilets from home for tax break

After being accused of removing toilets for tax breaks, a Duke trustee and candidate for Illinois governor found out that he couldn't flush away his civic duty that easily.

Trustee J.B. Pritzker, Trinity '87, will pay back more than $330,000 of property taxes after an inspector general's report found that he removed toilets from one of his homes to reclassify the home as uninhabitable. This move enabled him to pay lower taxes on the house, which was classified as a "scheme to defraud," according to the report.

Pritzker has a net worth of $3.2 billion, Forbes reported Tuesday.

“The evidence indicates that the use of these affidavits was part of a scheme for obtaining money by means of false representations,” wrote Patrick Blanchard, Cook County inspector general, in the report. 

The report advised Cook County to recover the money from Pritzker, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Pritzker's campaign for governor told the Chicago Tribune Tuesday afternoon that he would pay back his tax refunds from the scheme.

His wife, M.K. Pritzker, asked a contractor to remove five toilets from the home in 2015 to get a tax break, the report concluded. It also found that M.K. Pritzker's brother and her personal assistant subsequently made "false representations" to the assessor about the timing of the toilets' removal and the house's overall condition.

In his gubernatorial race, Pritzker holds more than a 15-point lead over Republican incumbent Bruce Rauner, according to RealClearPolitics

Rauner was not shy in broadcasting his disapproval of Pritzker's actions, tweeting about the controversy over 12 times since the story broke as of 7:50 p.m. Tuesday. His campaign's communications director, Will Allison, has also released a statement regarding the incident.

"From the very beginning, Pritzker was devising a corrupt scheme to defraud Illinois taxpayers by ripping toilets out of his mansion," Allison said in the statement.  

Pritzker released a statement of his own calling for an investigation into Rauner in response to the accusations.

"This is a politically leaked report without new information," said Galia Slayen, a Pritzker spokeswoman, in a statement. "Instead of standing outside of J.B. Pritzker’s home, [former Illinois Republican Party Chairman] Pat Brady should be calling for an investigation into Sterigenics, a company Bruce Rauner owned that is emitting high levels of cancer-causing air pollution that is poisoning Illinois families." 

The two candidates are scheduled to have their second televised debate Wednesday night.


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