Billionaire Ken Griffin announced Monday that he has donated $20 million to GOP gubernatorial candidate and Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin’s campaign. Irvin is one of five Republican candidates heading to the June primary looking to defeat Illinois Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
“I firmly believe Richard Irvin has the character and leadership needed to again make Illinois a place where people can feel safe to live, raise a family and pursue their dreams,” Griffin said in a statement Monday, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Griffin is currently the wealthiest person in Illinois as founder and CEO of the Citadel investment firm, the Chicago Tribune reports. Griffin has expressed that he’ll personally see to it that Pritzker does not remain in office, citing issues with crime and taxes.
“Richard knows the importance of ending wasteful spending and reducing oppressively high taxes. Illinois taxpayers are tired of sending their hard-earned money to Springfield to be burned in the furnace of waste and corruption. J.B. Pritzker — beholden to his cronies and political base — is unwilling to address either issue,” Griffin said.
From the Sun-Times:
Irvin said in a statement, “I appreciate Mr. Griffin’s support and the thousands of other donors who have joined our campaign in the first few weeks. I look forward to gaining the backing of even more Illinoisans throughout the state who want to be a part of this movement to stop out of control crime, skyrocketing taxes and wasteful spending, heavy handed government and corruption, and I will be a Governor who puts people first and tackles these issues head on.”
Pritzker campaign spokesperson Natalie Edelstein in a statement referred to the Griffin-backed former GOP Gov. Bruce Rauner, who Pritzker defeated. “Ken Griffin would conveniently like us all to forget he bankrolled the very governor that decimated the social services that prevent violence, caused our colleges and universities to nearly lose accreditation, and devastated our state’s finances in previously unseen ways.
“Moreover, Ken’s chosen candidate is entirely unserious about addressing the issues facing Illinois and spent 15 years profiting off of the defense of violent criminals. The wounds left by Bruce Rauner’s incompetence are still fresh and Illinoisans see Irvin’s candidacy for exactly what it is: another empty suit for Ken Griffin to drag our state backwards.”
According to the the Tribune, Griffin was responsible for assembling a slate of GOP candidates for statewide campaigns that included Irvin, who is a centrist trying to garner support from Trump voters. Other Republican candidates include state Sen. Darren Bailey of Xenia, business exec Gary Rabine, investor Jesse Sullivan and former state Sen. Paul Schimpf of Waterloo.
“J.B. Pritzker puts politics first and refuses to address the crime that is tearing apart our state, cities and families. I firmly believe Richard Irvin has the character and leadership needed to again make Illinois a place where people can feel safe to live, raise a family and pursue their dreams,” Griffin said, according to the Sun-Times.
Pritzker, also a billionaire and heir to the Hyatt Hotel fortune, has already donated $90 million of his own money to his reelection campaign.