The frontrunner in the race to be the Democratic candidate for governor of Illinois has been discovered to have made racially insensitive comments.
Billionaire businessman J.B. Pritzker, whose sister Penny served as Barack Obama’s Secretary of Commerce, was caught on an FBI wiretap between him and former Gov. Rod Blagojevich urging Blagojevich to appoint Secretary of State Jesse White to the Senate seat, calling him the “least offensive” African-American.
Blagojevich was convicted for attempting to barter an appointment to Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat in return for campaign cash. Pritzker reacted to the revelations by protesting he had not done anything wrong and moaned that the tapes had been leaked to damage his campaign. He threatened that he would consider legal action.
The tapes were released by the Chicago Tribune on Monday. Pritzker is heard urging Blagojevich to appoint White instead of other black politicians, including Jesse Jackson Jr. and Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett. Pritzker calls state Senate President Emil Jones “crass” and Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. a “nightmare.” Pritzker asserts that picking White “covers you on the African-American thing … Of all the African-Americans that I can think that are sort of like qualified ... and people will say ‘Oh — that’s, you know that’s, that’s a pretty good pick,’ the one that’s least offensive and maybe gets you the most because it gets you that secretary of state appointment is Jesse White.”
Worse, Pritzker laughs as Blagojevich jokes about appointing the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who infamously stated that America deserved the September 11 attacks and fulminated “God Damn America.” Blagojevich imitated Wright, saying “God Damn America” on the floor of the Senate, prompting Pritzker to respond, “That’s funny.”