Pritzker under fire after Chicago Tribune release of wiretap tape

J.B. Pritzker
Democratic candidate for governor J.B. Pritzker has apologized for comments he made in wiretapped conversations with then-governor Rod Blagojevich. (Photo courtesy Facebook/J.B. Pritzker)


SPRINGFIELD – In recent weeks, Gov. Bruce Rauner’s re-election campaign has sought to make political hay over wiretapped conversations from 2008 between Democratic gubernatorial hopeful J.B. Pritzker and then-Governor Rod Blagojevich.

The Chicago Tribune has released additional portions of the conversation, mostly focusing on race. Pritzker recommends Secretary of State Jesse White as a possible choice for the U.S. Senate seat that former President Obama was vacating at the time.

“That (candidate) that is least offensive and maybe gets your the most because it gets you that Secretary of State appointment is Jesse White,” Pritzker told Blagojevich in the recorder conversation.

Blagojevich added White has a lot in common with Obama, saying they are both ‘black and white.’

“How stupid is that?,” Blagojevich quipped.

Pritzker went on to tout the benefits of White’s potential departure from the Secretary of State’s office.

“It opens up the Secretary of State spot which is the key spot that controls job, etc. and it would put a lot less pressure on you. You don’t have to put an African-American in that spot,” Pritzker said, to which Blagojevich replied “Correct.”

Pritzker apologized during a press conference where he was joined by Secretary White. He told reporters he was not “his best self.” He also apologized to former Senate President Emil Jones in a phone call because he told Blagojevich Jones would be a poor choice for U.S. Senate because “he’s more crass.”

Blagojevich ended up appointing Roland Burris to that seat.

Pritzker’s Democratic rival Chris Kennedy labeled Pritzker’s comments “disqualifying.” State Sen. Daniel Biss said the conversation represents “everything that’s wrong with the connection between money and power.”