Political response and ramifications of Ken Griffin’s Citadel movement

When the richest man in Illinois, Ken Griffin, announced Thursday That he plans to move the headquarters of his investment firm from Chicago to Miami was not only a breakthrough for Citadel, but also came at a politically intriguing time for the billionaire hedge fund manager.

Republican voters in Illinois are poised to accept or reject on Tuesday some or all members of a slate of Republican candidates for statewide office that Griffin financed with $50 million. That list is headed by Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, who is vying to be the Republican nominee for governor.

Given the timing and political optics, it points to a potentially early concession speech. Irvin is in a close 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 paid television ads by Democratic Governor JB Pritzker and the Pritzker-backed Democratic Governors Association labeling Bailey as “too conservative” for Illinois. It’s an indirect push for conservatives to back Bailey, whom Democrats believe will be easier to defeat in the fall.

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

“In the last month alone, Illinois has lost Boeing, Caterpillar and now Citadel,” Irvin said, pointing to recent announcements from the defense contractor and aircraft manufacturer Y caterpillar inc that they are moving their corporate headquarters to Virginia and Texas, respectively.

Adding an argument for his candidacy, Irvin said: “It’s a clear pattern that shows no signs of ending unless we defeat Pritzker in November, and I’m the only person in this race with a proven track record of success in taking back Illinois.”

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

Durkin quoted Ian Fleming’s “Goldfinger,” in which the villain told James Bond: “’They have a saying in Chicago. Once is chance. Twice is coincidence. The third time, it’s enemy action. First is 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 be written off as a couple of white-collar jobs,” he said. “This is going to affect the whole country. This is what Illinois is now compared to what it used to be.”

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

While Boeing and Caterpillar have announced they will be leaving, Pritzker spokeswoman Emily Bittner said other big companies, like Kellogg Co.They have announced that they will be moving to Illinois.

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

Pritzker’s efforts to defeat Irvin in the Republican primary symbolize the bitter relationship between the billionaire governor of the state and Griffin. Griffin had frequently cited fear of crime in Chicago as a potential 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 top agenda item, a proposed constitutional amendment rejected by voters to change the status from a flat-rate income tax to a levy. graduated rate. Pritzker spent $58 million to encourage its passage.

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

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

Since 2002, records from the Illinois State Board of Elections show, Griffin has contributed $179 million to state and local, primarily Republican, candidates and organizations. But Griffin also financially supported the mayors of Chicago, Richard M. Daley and Rahm Emanuel.

In May, Griffin announced that he would donate $25 million to launch two academies based at the University of Chicago to provide advanced policing training to law enforcement leaders and violence disruption organizations.

Griffin has also donated approximately $40 million to various outside groups seeking to influence the outcome of congressional races across the country in midterm elections. That has made him one of the nation’s top individual donors involved in reshaping Congress this cycle.

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

If he decides to devote his resources to Florida, Griffin’s departure could spell an even dimmer fundraising future for Illinois Republicans who had counted on his wealth to help offset some of Pritzker’s lavish spending on Democrats.

While Republicans seized on the news to criticize Democratic leadership in Illinois and Chicago, at least one prominent Chicago Democrat didn’t shed many tears over Citadel’s departure.

US Representative Jesus “Chuy” Garcia of Chicago said news of the Citadel move “isn’t a huge surprise” as Griffin had previously been moving jobs out of Illinois.

“I guess 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. . meeting in Chicago. “I wish your employees the best.”

But Garcia said he also won’t be surprised if Griffin continues to “meddle” in Illinois politics from his new spot.

“Billionaires can still affect elections, no matter where they are,” he said.



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