Amid the national debate over whether members of Congress should be able to trade stock, the governor of Illinois is demonstrating how prevalent conflicts of interest are for elected officials who own securities.
In 2020, Gov. JB Pritzker’s trust bought stock in the health insurance company Centene Corp. That same year, Illinois gave $2.6 billion worth of Medicaid contracts to Centene Corp.
An investigation by the Better Government Association, a nonprofit Illinois watchdog, uncovered these interesting investments. Even though Pritzker’s investments are in a blind trust, which means that Pritzker is not privy to investment decisions, they demonstrate why blind trusts can’t prevent conflicts of interest.
Each year, Pritzker receives a copy of his current investments from his fund managers, which have the potential to influence the state contracting process.
Pritzker, a member of the family that owns the Hyatt Hotel dynasty, has a net worth of $3.6 billion, according to Forbes.
During his 2018 campaign, he pledged to purge his investment portfolio of companies that held state contracts, according to the report.
However, in 2020, his portfolio managers invested in Centene Corp., one of Illinois’ largest Medicaid contractors, according to the association’s report. While not illegal, the association’s experts say Pritzker could have instructed his trust managers not to invest in state contractors to eliminate the potential for a conflict of interest.
Pritzker and his trust managers refuse to disclose how much the investments are worth nor when the investments were made. All that has been disclosed so far is that his stake in Centene Corp is worth over $5,000, according to his Statement of Economic Interest form filed with the state.
These investments should serve as a wake-up call for investment reform for public officials. Public servants should be transparent when it comes to investing.
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