Political Response and Offshoots of Ken Griffin’s Citadel Movement

When Illinois’ richest man, Ken Griffin, announced Thursday that he plans to move his investment firm’s headquarters from Chicago to Miami, it was not only a major development for Citadel, it also came at a politically intriguing time for the billionaire hedge fund. Manager.

Illinois Republican voters are expected on Tuesday to accept or reject some or all of the members of a list of GOP candidates for state office that Griffin has funded with $50 million. That ticket is led by Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, who is vying to be the Republican nominee for governor.

Considering the moment and the political perspective, it points to a potentially early concession speech. Irvin is in a tight race for the nomination and faces strong opposition from state senator Darren Bailey of Xenia.

Bailey was helped, in part, by a series of paid TV ads by Democratic Governor JB Pritzker and the Pritzker-backed Association of Democratic Governors, which labels Bailey “too conservative” for Illinois. It’s an indirect effort to get Conservatives to support Bailey, who Democrats think will be easier to defeat in the fall.

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

“Just last month, Illinois lost Boeing, Caterpillar and now Citadel,” Irvin said, noting recent announcements from the defense company and aircraft maker and Caterpillar Inc. that they are moving their corporate headquarters to Virginia and Texas, respectively.

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

Illinois House Republican Leader Jim Durkin of Western Springs said Griffin’s departure is 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 chance. Twice is a coincidence. The third time, it’s enemy action. First is Boeing. Second is 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 dismissed as a couple of white-collar jobs,” he said. “This will have repercussions across the country. This is what Illinois is now versus what it used to be.”

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

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

“We will continue to welcome these companies – including Kellogg, which announced this week that it is moving its largest headquarters to Illinois – and support emerging industries that are already creating good jobs and investing billions in Illinois, such as data centers, electrical and quantum systems. computing,” Bittner said in a statement.

Pritzker’s efforts to defeat Irvin in the Republican primaries symbolize the bitter relationship between the state’s billionaire governor and Griffin. Griffin has often cited Chicago’s fear of crime as a potential reason to change 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 constitutional amendment proposal rejected by voters to change the state from a fixed income tax to a graduated rate. Pritzker spent $58 million to encourage its approval.

In the 2018 gubernatorial race, Griffin gave Republican Governor Bruce Rauner $22.5 million in his re-election 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 pumped $4.5 million into a group that opposed the retention of Illinois Supreme Court Democratic Justice Thomas Kilbride. Kilbride became the first court judge to lose a retaining vote. This time, with elections outside of Cook County for a district Supreme Court, Griffin gave the group more than $6.25 million.

Since 2002, according to Illinois State Board of Elections records, Griffin has contributed $179 million to state and local candidates, mostly 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 launch two academies at the University of Chicago to provide advanced police training to law enforcement leaders and violence-stopping organizations.

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

Griffin is also the top individual 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 more drained fundraising future for Illinois Republicans who relied on their wealth to help in part offset Pritzker’s lavish spending on Democrats.

While Republicans took advantage of the news to attack the Democratic leadership in Illinois and Chicago, at least one Chicago Democratic leader didn’t shed too many tears over Citadel’s departure.

US Representative Jesus “Chuy” Garcia of Chicago said the news of Citadel’s move “is not a huge shock” as Griffin was already transferring jobs from Illinois.

“I think he feels most welcome as a Republican, as an Arch Conservative, in a state where DeSantis is governor,” said Garcia, a progressive Democrat, before an appearance at the National Association of Elected Officials and Latino Nominees, which is holding its annual meeting. meeting in Chicago. “I wish the best of luck to your employees.”

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

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

rap30@aol.com

dpetrella@chicagotribune.com

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