Four more staffers associated with Democrat J. B. Pritzker’s campaign for Illinois governor came forward to allege the billionaire’s staff racially discriminated against black and Hispanic people on the campaign, NBC’s Chicago affiliate reported Thursday night.
The allegations come on the heels of a lawsuit Pritzker’s staffers filed Tuesday alleging racial discrimination and harassment was rampant throughout his campaign. Now former staffers told NBC reporters their experiences mirror the accounts noted in the lawsuit.
They reportedly first voiced discrimination complaints to Pritzker and his running mate, Juliana Stratton, after FBI tapes revealed Pritzker allegedly telling former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich in 2008 that Secretary of State Jesse White was the least offensive choice to replace then-Illinois Democratic Sen. Barack Obama.
Pritzker contributed more than $146 million into his own campaign and backed former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she ran in the Democratic presidential primary against Obama in 2008. He also served as a fundraiser and adviser to Clinton in her 2016 presidential run.
“Our campaign is committed to advancing the cause of equality in the workplace and preventing workplace discrimination and will continue its advancement of those shared interests,” Pritzker’s campaign said in a statement Thursday following the initial allegations.
Stratton and Pritzker said nobody voiced concerns to them.
“Not to me directly, not to me,” Pritzker said in the statement. He also reminded reporters that “about 45 percent of our staff all across the state are people of color, we’ve run a great campaign.”
One ex-staffer not named in the lawsuit told NBC that working conditions in the office were unsafe.
“We were treated very demeaning and micromanaged,” the former staffer said. He or she added that there were rats inside one Chicago office.
The staffers also questioned why the candidate did not visit the field office on the South Side, according to one of the attorneys representing the former staffers.
“As the lawsuit lays out, they were told maybe if the people in the neighborhood stop shooting maybe Pritzker would come,” attorney Shay Allen said. Others not named in the lawsuit voiced similar concerns.
Staffers experienced “unfair treatment, hostile and oppressive behavior” from a supervisor and that left people “rebuffed, ignored and ultimately dismissed, fired for voicing my concerns over J.B.’s discriminatory practices,” said another former staffer.
The allegations also come weeks after seven Republican representatives in Illinois called for an investigation of Pritzker’s alleged “toilet fraud” scheme, which claims he fraudulently obtained more than $330,000 in property tax breaks by removing the toilets in one of his mansions. (RELATED: Entire Illinois Republican Congressional Delegation Calls For Investigation Into Dem Gubernatorial Candidate’s ‘Toilet Fraud’)
Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, Pritzker’s opponent, is down in the deep blue state by around 15 points, according to Real Clear Politics.
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