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Joby Pritzker and J.B. Pritzker. 2

Pritzker’s got a pot connection, plus news on Rogers, Trott

April 29th, 2018

 J.B. Pritzker has a pot connection.

He’s related to Joseph “Joby” Pritzker, a leader in the national movement to legalize marijuana–and an investor in companies that would profit from legalizing marijuana.

J.B. and Joby’s grandfathers were brothers.

The Pritzkers’ family connection apparently hasn’t played a role in the campaign. A source close to J.B. Pritzker’s political camp says the cousins haven’t spoken about the issue of legalizing marijuana in Illinois.

Joby is managing director of San Francisco-based Tao Capital Partners, which invests in health-care, sustainable food projects, electric transportation and businesses in the cannabis industry. Some of those interests include MJ Freeway, an industry software company, and Pax Labs vaporizer retailer. And he’s invested in Arcview, a cannabis-focused investing group.

Joby also is board chairman of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), the largest U.S. organization focused on changing federal law to allow states to determine their own marijuana policies. Its goal is to treat marijuana like alcohol.

In Pritzker’s primary-election victory speech, the crowd went wild when he said “Let’s legalize marijuana.” Twitter lit up over the comment. His campaign literature defends decriminalizing pot as a good way to reduce mass incarceration. And his spokeswoman adds, “Legalizing marijuana will bring hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue to our state, but more than that, it will help reform a broken criminal justice system that has disproportionately harmed communities of color for far too long. J.B. knows we can legalize marijuana in a safe way that will benefit communities across Illinois and he is ready to do that as governor.”

That’s strong stuff, but some campaign watchers still wonder if Pritzker is just blowing smoke to counter Republican incumbent Bruce Rauner’s opposition to legalizing pot. Rauner has called legalization “a mistake.” Illinois House Speaker Mike Madigan, meanwhile, said last week that he hasn’t taken a position on pot.

For background, the two Pritzkers are heirs to the Hyatt fortune. J.B.’s late father, Donald Pritzker, built the Hyatt Hotel chain before his sudden death at age 39.

Joby’s father, Nicholas Pritzker, would later serve as Hyatt chairman. Nicholas and Joby’s mom, Susan, travel back and forth from Chicago to San Francisco.

Joby and his immediate family are the force behind the Libra Foundation, which has doled out $24 million to 61 organizations focused on social justice and drug policies.

Desirée  Rogers

ROGERS ON BOARD:  Desirée  Rogers has been named to the board of directors of MDC Partners Inc.

The New York-based public company invests in agencies focused on advertising, marketing, media management, technology and analytics.

It’s a good fit for Rogers, who previously served from 2010 to 2017 as CEO of Johnson Publishing Company, overseeing Ebony and Jet magazines, and Fashion Fair Cosmetics. She’s currently chairman of Choose Chicago tourism agency. Other career stints include special assistant to the president and White House Social Secretary in the Obama administration and president of Allstate Social Network for Allstate Financial.

This is the second public-company assignment for Rogers. She also sits on the board of Pinnacle Entertainment casino company.

RELATED CONTENT: African Americans who sit on public boards

In a release announcing Rogers’ appointment, MDC Chairman and CEO Scott Kauffman said Rogers’ “broad experience will be an asset to our company going forward.”

And Rogers added, “I am excited to be able to offer my expertise and perspective to a company that is leading in creativity and innovation, and that serves as a beacon for entrepreneurial and diverse talent.”

The Chicago businesswoman also serves on numerous nonprofit boards, including Donors Choose, Cradles to Crayons, Northwestern Memorial Foundation and Museum of Science and Industry.

Jennifer Pritzker

ARMY-SIZE DONATION: Jennifer Pritzker, the billionaire heiress and a retired U.S. Army National Guard colonel, has committed $1 million to the Army Historical Foundation.

The gift will be split between programming and challenge grants for a campaign for the National Museum of the United States Military.

The big donation fits well with Pritzker’s passion for preserving historic buildings, as well as her support for military causes. She heads the Pritzker Military Foundation, which helps fund the Pritzker Military Museum & Library (it’s located on Michigan Avenue).

“Giving to another foundation that offers the same commitment of honoring those who have served this country is what our foundation is about,” Pritzker said in a release announcing the gift.

In addition to the grant, the Pritzker Military Foundation also is loaning $10 Million to the Army Historical Foundation to help finish construction of the National Army Museum in Virginia, which is expected to be completed in April 2019.

IT’S PARTY $EA$ON: A combined $6 million was raised at three big events in recent days. Following are snapshots of each and the who’s who in attendance. You’ll LOL at the story told at the Lincoln Foundation fundraiser.

Byron and Tina Trott

TROTT DOUBLES DOWN: Byron Trott didn’t take the stage, but he did make a big impact at last night’s UNICEF gala at The Geraghty.

The chairman and CEO of BDT Capital Partners and his wife, event co-chair Tina Trott, ramped up donations by matching every $10,000 that was made–there were six.

The evening culminated with a whopping $1.1 million.

Some 500 guests attended, including Camille Julmy, vice chair of CBRE; Morgan Stanley adviser Joe Silich and his wife Susie; and UNICEF Vice Chair Hilary Scott.

I couldn’t make the bash, so I’d love to know who won the “In Home Chef Experience with Giuseppe Tentori.” I’d be happy to free up my calendar.

Maurice Smith

DISCOVER THIS: The American Cancer Society’s 2018 Discovery Ball netted $3 million–including a $250,000 donation from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois.

“We’re on the cusp of big things with new discoveries around the corner,” said gala chair and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois President Maurice Smith. “And it’s why we’re there for everyone facing cancer, and to help people live healthier lives, right here in Chicago – and in communities nationwide.”

One of the auction events included dinner with famed chef, Noah Sandoval. FYI to the winner, I’m available for this one, too.

TONY BLAIR GETS TAWDRY: Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair took a friendly swipe at a certain U.S. president and it brought down the house for the annual Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation charity dinner last week.

Tony Blair

It all started when Alan Lowe, the executive director of the Lincoln museum in Springfield, shared an irreverent story that Lincoln liked to tell–it will sound familiar to anyone who saw the movie “Lincoln” with Daniel-Day Lewis.

The story goes like this.

Revolutionary War hero Ethan Allen visited England shortly after the war and his hosts joked nonstop about how rough-around-the-edges Americans were. Allen just took it in. At some point he excused himself to use the outhouse and inside the privy saw a picture of Gen. George Washington hanging on the wall.

Allen returned to the party and didn’t say a word. His host asked if Allen saw the painting and if he thought it was an “appropriate place” to be hanging.

Allen responded, “Yes, it’s appropriate. Because there’s nothing that will make an Englishman sh*t so quick as the sight of General Washington.”

The crowd gathered at the Hilton on Michigan Avenue burst into laughter. That’s a word you just don’t hear at society events, after all.

When Blair came to the podium, he said, “If Washington’s portrait is on the wall (of the loo), heaven knows what we’d do with the portrait of other presidents.”

The crowd howled.

Some of the biggest names in business and politics attended the party, including Foundation President Ray McCaskey, attorney Wayne Whalen and his civic-leader wife Paula Wolff, NiSource Executive Vice President Carrie Hightman, SpaanTech CEO Smita Shah and her business-consultant husband Maarten De Jeu, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke and her alderman husband Ed Burke, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County Commissioner Bridget Gainer, businesswoman Christie Hefner, Indian Consul General Neeta Bhushan, Merrill Lynch exec Sharon Oberlander, McPier CEO Lori Healey, former U.S. Senator Carol Moseley Braun, public relations veteran Ron Culp and Graphic Conservation President Russ Maki.

Organizers of the event say they don’t like to go public with fundraising numbers, but previous tax filings show the event each year raises more than $1 million.


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2 Responses to Pritzker’s got a pot connection, plus news on Rogers, Trott

  1. Kathleen Boyle says:

    Love that Revolutionary War tidbit, Shia! Made me LOL

  2. Pingback: Ariel Investments Rogers joins New York Times board

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