Governor J.B. Pritzker (D-IL) blasted Citadel CEO Ken Griffin, formerly the richest man in Illinois, for moving himself and his company from Chicago to Miami, Florida, amid soaring crime in the Windy City.
Griffin — whose $29 billion net worth places him among the 50 richest men on the planet, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index — moved to Miami after voicing concerns about the lackluster business environment and rising crime rates in Chicago. He announced last month that Citadel, which manages $51 billion in assets, will likewise relocate to Florida.
In prepared remarks for a meeting of Florida Democrats last weekend, Pritzker criticized Griffin for leaving Illinois and for supporting Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL).
“So like a spoiled rich kid, Griffin announced he was taking his toys and leaving Illinois,” Pritzker said. “Where did he move to? You guessed it. His $400 million, 20-acre Palm Beach estate. And he’s one of Ron DeSantis’ largest donors.”
“Really really sorry about that,” he continued, adding that supporting DeSantis over former President Donald Trump is “a little bit like saying you’ve never been a fan of Darth Vader but you support the Empire’s political agenda.”
Florida, however, saw the nation’s largest net domestic migration between July 2020 and July 2021, with over 220,000 people moving to the state, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Florida was followed by Texas and Arizona, while New York, California, and Illinois led the nation in terms of numeric decline.
Pritzker also defended the reputation of Chicago which, under the leadership of Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D), recorded 797 homicides in 2021 — the highest of any other American city that year.
“Just for the record, Chicago should be no one’s punching bag,” Pritzker argued. “It’s a beautiful city that boasts glorious summer festivals, the very best cultural institutions, entertainment and food, and the kindest and most amazing people you will ever meet. It’s the birthplace of gospel music and the Blues Brothers. It’s where Barack Obama came from. We’re a diverse, compelling place with a proud history.”
Citadel is one of several major companies to move its headquarters out of Chicago in recent months. Construction machinery maker Caterpillar and airplane manufacturer Boeing are respectively moving to Irving, Texas, and Arlington, Virginia.
Nevertheless, the office of Pritzker — with whom Griffin has feuded — said in a statement to The Wall Street Journal that “countless companies” are still opting to stay.
“We will continue to welcome those businesses — including Kellogg, which just this week announced it is moving its largest headquarters to Illinois — and support emerging industries that are already creating good jobs and investing billions in Illinois, like data centers, electric vehicles and quantum computing,” Pritzker spokeswoman Emily Bittner said.
Chicago is slated to host the Democratic National Convention in 2024. As President Joe Biden’s poll numbers continue to fall, many Democrats — including Pritzker and Governor Gavin Newsom (D-CA) — have ventured into the Florida political sphere, fueling speculation of presidential ambitions.