Pritzker, Rauner spar after Democrat pledges $1 million to black-owned bank

Democratic governor candidate J.B. Pritzker is making a $1 million deposit in a black-owned bank in Chicago, taking a page from Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner‘s playbook.

The issue led to back-and-forth attacks from the two campaigns centered on failures of financial institutions Rauner and the Pritzker family have been involved with in their careers.

Pritzker’s planned deposit, like Rauner’s three years ago in a South Side credit union, carry the goal of generating support from black voters.

Pritzker’s campaign tried to draw a distinction between the two men’s actions: the Democrat’s money pledge was only announced on a Chicago radio show, while Rauner’s visit to the credit union was a major campaign event.

Appearing on WVON 1690-AM Monday, Pritzker was asked by a caller named “Bob” if he could do what Rauner did and “make a commitment to put $1 million of the money in a black bank so we can have loans and hire people?”

Pritzker, a billionaire investor and entrepreneur, responded: “As a matter of fact I have made a commitment to do that, and we met with a number of African-American faith leaders who were very encouraging about that and felt like that’s a very important way for us to create employment in the African-American community, so that’s something I’ve already done.”

The money is going to Illinois Service Federal Savings in Bronzeville, the Pritzker campaign confirmed Friday.

When Rauner campaigned in July 2014 for the governor’s office, the wealthy former equity investor attended a South Side meeting of the group Black Wall Street Chicago, where he pledged to deposit $1 million in a black-owned institution.

Later, Rauner showed up at the South Side Community Federal Credit Union at 54th and Wentworth Avenues, scaling back his deposit to $800,000 and giving another $200,000 as a grant. That was because the credit union couldn’t generate enough revenue to pay Rauner the interest due on a $1 million deposit.

Pritzker’s decision to pick Illinois Service was first reported by Crain’s Chicago Business. The bank reported losing $3.8 million for 2016, federal records show, but showed a slight profit in the first three months of 2017.

Early in the primary campaign, Pritzker and his chief rivals for the Democratic nomination have been working to pick up support in the African-American community, a dedicated Democratic voting bloc. Pritzker has among his African-American supporters Aldermen Pat Dowell, 3rd; Roderick Sawyer, 6th; Emma Mitts, 37th; and Michael Scott Jr., 24th, as well as city Treasurer Kurt Summers.

In a statement, Pritzker’s campaign sought to draw a distinction with their candidate’s actions and Rauner’s, contending when the Republican got elected in 2014 he “left Illinoisans behind.”

“Unlike Bruce Rauner, Illinois communities can count on J.B. to stand with them as governor because that’s what he’s done his entire career,” the Democrat’s campaign said. “J.B….

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