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Pritzker takes reigns as governor

January 14, 2019 GMT

The Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois welcomes its 43rd governor as Democrat J.B. Pritzker is inaugurated today in Springfield.

Pritzker takes the reins from Gov. Bruce Rauner. Pritzker defeated the first-term Republican in November. The race pitted two wealthy men who spent millions of their own money to boost their bids during the campaign.

First Presbyterian Church will host an interfaith service as part of the inauguration activities. Abraham Lincoln’s family belonged to the congregation. The current church is home to the pew the Lincolns bought for $50.

Pritzker was set to take the oath of office during a morning ceremony at Bank of Springfield Center. Pritzker’s running mate, Juliana Stratton, was set to be sworn in as lieutenant governor.

Pritzker’s election was part of a party sweep. Democrats comprise the entire statewide slate of elective offices. Incoming Attorney General Kwame Raoul was inaugurated and Secretary of State Jesse White, Comptroller Susana Mendoza and Treasurer Michael Frerichs were sworn in to new terms today.

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Pritzker is apparently not done dipping into his own pockets to support his cause. He plans to pay his own money to double the salaries of several key staffers.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports Pritzker created East Jackson Street LLC to personally compensate staffers in addition to their government salaries. Pritzker spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh says the governor elect “is committed to recruiting top talent to state government to best address the challenges Illinois faces.”

Pritzker’s chief of staff, three deputy governors and their special assistants, deputy chiefs of staff and other high-level employees will receive the double salaries. Overall, it will apply to 20 positions, some that have not been filled. With the extra pay Pritzker chief of staff Anne Caprara’s salary would be almost $300,000.

Staffers who received the additional pay must report it along with other public disclosures.

The move has raised eyebrows and ethical questions. State Rep. Grant Wehrli, R-Naperville, told the Illinois News Network he is considering filing legislation to prohibit it.

Wehrli told INN: “Who do they work for? Do they work for the people of the state of Illinois? Or do they have a greater loyalty to the governor as that’s where a large chunk of their income comes from?”