How billionaire Pritzkers became key backers of bail reform, ‘gender affirming’ care

Depending on who you ask, members of the billionaire Pritzker family of Chicago are either the proud descendants of a financial genius who are doing good by funding progressive causes — or a secretive dynasty who now back radical no-bail laws and the transgender movement. 

The most prominent member of the family today is Gov. J.B. Pritzker, 57, a longtime Democratic activist and supporter whose net worth is about $3.6 billion. 

His sister, Penny, 63, was co-chair of former President Barack Obama’s presidential campaign and later became his secretary for the Department of Commerce. This, despite her once serving on the board of Superior Bank, which the Pritzkers bought with $460 million in tax credits from the federal government. The bank later collapsed after being one of the first to traffic in subprime mortgages.

J.B.’s cousin Jennifer Pritzker, 72, a twice-married parent of three who was born James Pritzker, is, along with Martine Rothblatt, one of the world’s only two openly transgender billionaires. She retired as a lieutenant colonel in the US Army in 2001 after a 27-year military career and transitioned in 2013. Unlike the rest of her family, who have long been die-hard Democrats, Jennifer was a loyal Republican and reliable donor to the GOP until she became disillusioned with the party in 2019 over what she saw as its anti-transgender agenda. 

Anthony Pritzker, brother to J.B. and Jennifer, runs the Pritzker Group private equity firm, and was the subject of a mini-scandal when he and his wife bought and then demolished a landmark Bel Air home, irking their neighbors when they built a massive mega-mansion in its place. He and his wife sold the property for almost $22 million in 2012 after finishing its construction. 

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