The Political Response and Consequences of Ken Griffin .’s Citadel Movement

When Illinois’ richest man Ken Griffin announced on Thursday that he plans to move the headquarters of his investment company from Chicago to Miami, it was a significant development not only for Citadel, but also politically at an intriguing moment for the billionaire. hedge fund. manager.

Republican voters in Illinois stand on Tuesday to accept or reject some or all of the members of a string of GOP candidates for state offices that Griffin funded with $50 million. That slate is headed by Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, who is competing for the Republican nominee for governor.

Given the timing and political perspective, it points to a possible early concession speech. Irvin is in a hotly contested six-way race for the nomination and faces strong opposition from State Sen. Darren Bailey of Xenia.

Bailey has been helped in part by a slew of TV ads paid for by Democratic government JB Pritzker and the Pritzker-backed Democratic Governors Association that label Bailey as “too conservative” for Illinois. It’s an underhand push for conservatives to back Bailey, who Democrats say will be easier to beat in the fall.

In a statement Thursday, just hours after Griffin’s announcement, Irvin blamed Pritzker for Citadel’s departure and for refusing to “recognize what everyone is seeing, which is that his highly-taxed, pro-criminal administration is literally taking jobs and businesses out of business.” state expels.”

“In the past month alone, Illinois lost Boeing, Caterpillar and now Citadel,” Irvin said, pointing to recent announcements by the defense contractor and aircraft maker and Caterpillar Inc. that they are moving their headquarters to Virginia and Texas, respectively.

Adding a pitch for his candidacy, Irvin said: “It’s a clear pattern that shows no signs of an end unless we beat Pritzker in November, and I’m the only person in this race with a proven track record of getting Illinois back.” to win.”

Illinois House Republican leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs said Griffin’s departure was a sign of the state’s modern business climate.

Durkin quoted Ian Fleming’s “Goldfinger,” in which the villain told James Bond, “They have a saying in Chicago. Once is a coincidence. Twice is coincidence. The third time it’s enemy action.’ First it’s Boeing. Second, it’s Caterpillar. Third, it’s Citadel,” Durkin said.

“I mean, this is a huge statement. What we’re seeing with these corporate offices, (Pritzker) just can’t discount it as a few white-collar jobs,” he said. “This is going to reverberate across the country. This is what Illinois is now versus what it was.”

A note from Griffin to employees states that after more than 30 years in Chicago, his Citadel will move to a new headquarters in Miami’s financial district. Citadel has approximately 1,000 employees in Chicago and will maintain an office in the city.

While Boeing and Caterpillar have announced they are leaving, Pritzker spokeswoman Emily Bittner said other major companies, such as Kellogg Co., have announced their move to Illinois.

“We will continue to welcome those companies — including Kellogg, which this week announced it is moving its largest corporate headquarters to Illinois — and support emerging industries that are already creating great jobs and investing billions in Illinois, such as data centers, electric vehicles and quantum computing,” he said. Bittner in a statement.

Pritzker’s efforts to defeat Irvin in the primary GOP symbolize the bitter relationship between the billionaire governor of the state and Griffin. Griffin had often cited the fear of crime in Chicago as a possible reason for moving Citadel, blaming Pritzker and his policies but not Mayor Lori Lightfoot, including at an October 2021 event at the Economic Club of Chicago.

In the November 2020 election, Griffin spent $53.75 million to oppose Pritzker’s signature agenda item, a proposed constitutional amendment rejected by voters to change the state from a flat-rate income tax to a tiered-rate levy. Pritzker spent $58 million to encourage the passage.

In the 2018 governor’s race, Griffin gave Republican Governor Bruce Rauner $22.5 million in his losing reelection bid against Pritzker, who spent more than $170 million of his own money on his campaign. Griffin gave Rauner $13.5 million for Rauner’s 2014 winning effort.

Also in 2020, Griffin pumped $4.5 million into a group that opposed the retention of Illinois Supreme Court Justice Thomas Kilbride. Kilbride became the first judge to lose a retention vote. This time, Griffin has given the group more than $6.25 million, with elections outside Cook County for a new Supreme Court district.

Since 2002, data from the Illinois State Board of Elections shows that Griffin has contributed $179 million to state and local candidates, primarily Republicans, and organizations. But Griffin was also a financial supporter of Chicago mayors Richard M. Daley and Rahm Emanuel.

In May, Griffin announced that he was donating $25 million to establish two academies at the University of Chicago to provide advanced police training to law enforcement and violence-interruption organizations.

Griffin has also given about $40 million to various outside groups seeking to influence the outcome of congressional races across the country in the midterm elections. That has made him one of the largest individual donors in the nation involved in reforming Congress this cycle.

Griffin is also the largest individual donor to Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, earning him $5 million.

If he decides to spend his resources on Florida, Griffin’s departure could spell an even more drained future for the Illinois Republicans’ fundraising efforts, who had counted on his wealth to partially make up for Pritzker’s lavish spending on Democrats.

As Republicans jumped the news to destroy Democratic leadership in Illinois and Chicago, at least one leading Chicago Democrat didn’t shed many tears over Citadel’s departure.

US Rep. Chicago’s Jesus “Chuy” Garcia said the news of Citadel’s move “doesn’t come as a big shock,” as Griffin had previously moved jobs from Illinois.

“I think he feels more welcome as a Republican, as an arch-conservative, in a state where DeSantis is governor,” Garcia, a progressive Democrat, said before an appearance at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, which is holding its annual meeting in Chicago. “I wish his employees every success.”

But Garcia said he won’t be surprised either if Griffin continues to “mess with” Illinois politics from his new hometown.

“Billionaires can still influence elections wherever they are,” he said.

rap30@aol.com

dpetrella@chicagotribune.com

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