Monday, December 5

Ken Griffin’s political influence lingers

Ken Griffin may be gone but not his influence on Illinois politics: Today’s Juice, by Greg Hinz

Photo: Bloomberg


In a little bit of a mystery, the only incumbent Republican seeking re-election to the Cook County Board has received a $200,000 donation from an unknown and unregistered political campaign committee.

GOP insiders – and a few Democrats, too – are buzzing about the donation to the personal campaign fund of Sean Morrison from a group identified as the Coalition to Cut Taxes.

What’s known for sure is that the coalition is registered at 440 S. LaSalle, according to Morrison’s disclosure. That’s the same building in which mega-GOP fund-raiser Ron Gidwitz’s business has an office. It should also be noted that Morrison serves as the chair of the Cook County Republican Party.

RELATED: Under new management: The Illinois GOP

Gidwitz failed to return a call seeking comment. But the bigger buzz is the money, one way or another, came from Citadel CEO Ken Griffin, who spent tens of millions of dollars on Illinois politics before moving his headquarters and his wallet to Miami a few months ago.

Griffin’s spokesman flatly denies that the hedge fund mogul has committed any money to any Illinois candidate running in the fall general election.

But GOP insiders strongly suspect the money is “leftover” cash that Griffin committed to failed gubernatorial hopeful Richard Irvin, money that didn’t get spent on Irvin but is available to help people such as Morrison who are considered friends.

In fact, signs point to another group that Griffin donated heavily to: the Coalition to Stop the Proposed Tax Amendment.

RELATED: Ken Griffin and J.B. Pritzker’s secret meeting: The origin of a political feud

That coalition led the campaign against Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s proposed graduated income tax amendment two years ago. Griffin donated a stout $20 million to the group. The twist: when that fight was over, the Coalition to Stop the Proposed Tax Amendment donated a remaining $450,000 in assets to – guess who? – the Coalition to Cut Taxes.

Morrison, in a phone interview, says he doesn’t know exactly where the money is coming from but wouldn’t be surprised if it originated in a Griffin-linked group. Morrison says he intends to spend the money on his own re-election campaign, saying “I’ve been targeted” by County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and other Democrats.

That means the money won’t be available for others on the GOP ticket. But who knows? Nowadays, just about anything seems possible when it comes to political cash.


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