Irvin Has No Problem Being Funded By Griffin’s Gun Money
As he bankrolls Richard Irvin’s bogus “law and order” campaign and parades as a public safety advocate, billionaire Ken Griffin has firms with millions of dollars invested in gun and ammunition manufacturing companies.
New reporting from WBEZ details how Griffin’s “$46 billion hedge fund — Citadel — and its corporate cousin had investments and holdings in gun and ammunition manufacturing companies, federal securities records show.”
WBEZ continues that in Chicago: “one out of every four guns recovered from city homicides in the past five years came off the assembly lines of companies in which Citadel held shares — weapons that have played a role in the same, worsening crime wave that Griffin blames on the governor.”
This news comes after the Chicago Tribune slammed Irvin for his record of profiting off of helping clients accused of kidnapping, domestic violence, and other crimes he calls out in campaign ads escape accountability.
Meanwhile, Gov. JB Pritzker has more than doubled funding to reduce gun violence since he took office. Gov. Pritzker recently announced he’s directing $150 million to organizations working to prevent violence through his Reimagine Public Safety Act, which aims to address the root causes of firearm violence in Illinois through targeted, integrated behavioral health services, access to economic opportunities, and violence interruption and prevention programs.
Read below for key excerpts from the article:
WBEZ: Chicago billionaire Ken Griffin’s firms have $86 million in companies making guns and ammunition
With Chicago-area homicides, carjackings and expressway shootings all up in 2021, billionaire investment tycoon Kenneth Griffin minced no words last fall when he singled out one man, Democratic Gov. JB Pritzker, for not confronting the crime scourge terrorizing the region.
But while Griffin was deriding Pritzker’s response as a “disgrace,” Griffin’s $46 billion hedge fund — Citadel — and its corporate cousin had investments and holdings in gun and ammunition manufacturing companies, federal securities records show.
In fact, Chicago police data analyzed by WBEZ show that nearly one out of every four guns recovered from city homicides in the past five years came off the assembly lines of companies in which Citadel held shares — weapons that have played a role in the same, worsening crime wave that Griffin blames on the governor.
Griffin’s activism and bank account are shaping the Illinois Republican Party in this year’s election cycle as the GOP looks for big gains in Springfield. Griffin and his favored gubernatorial candidate, Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, are focusing on crime as a defining issue to deprive the Democratic governor of a second term.
All told, Citadel’s hedge fund arm and its related market-maker firm, Citadel Securities, reported investments and holdings in gun and ammunition manufacturing companies that exceeded $86 million at the end of 2021, according to federal securities disclosures.
Last week, Griffin contributed $20 million to Irvin, who is in a potential five-way Republican gubernatorial primary set for June. Two days earlier, Irvin blasted Pritzker on Twitter for having a “sit back and relax” approach to Chicago’s generationally high homicide rate.
Overall on crime, Pritzker enacted a criminal justice package last year that mandated police body cameras by 2025 and will end cash bail in 2023; beefed up State Police patrols on Chicago expressways; and deployed the Illinois National Guard in 2020 at Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s request to respond to civil unrest and looting in Chicago after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. This month, Pritzker proposed funding what he said would be the largest class of new State Police cadets in a single year.
At the same time Griffin was ridiculing Pritzker, Citadel and Citadel Securities held shares in five gun and ammunition manufacturing companies with a combined value of more than $103 million as of September 2021, according to a company disclosure with the federal Securities and Exchange Commission.
“Based on their holdings, it appears that they have pretty significant engagement and exposure to the sector, and that’s a choice they’re making whether for their hedge fund or their market maker,” said Tyler Gellasch, a former SEC lawyer and executive director of Healthy Markets Association, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit investor advocacy group.
“Those are securities they own,” he said. “I think it’s fair to say if they own the securities, they own the securities.”
In Chicago, anti-violence advocates interviewed by WBEZ were surprised to learn of Citadel’s investments and holdings and were critical of them considering Griffin’s outspokenness on crime and the frequency of gunfire in neighborhoods throughout the city.
“You absolutely cannot be a voice about crime and murder or shootings on our streets when your company is a major investor in gun manufacturers. It’s absolutely hypocritical,” said the Rev. Michael Pfleger, pastor of Faith Community of St. Sabina Church in the city’s Auburn Gresham neighborhood and an ardent gun-control advocate.
“Guns have become part of America’s wardrobe and … become the major instrument in the violence that has grown across the nation, but particularly in Chicago, where we’ve had the most homicides in 27 years,” Pfleger said. “So how do you speak out about that while you were investing in this industry that is making guns accessible?”
Citadel turned down multiple requests to interview Griffin after WBEZ raised the issue of the investments and holdings.
Federal court records show Chicago police recovered a Smith & Wesson gun that was linked through ballistic tests to more than a dozen bullet casings inside an Englewood home, where 13 people were shot while commemorating the life of a young Chicago man who was killed during a carjacking attempt.
The December 2019 Englewood crime is regarded as one of the biggest mass shootings in the city.
Earlier that year, a Smith & Wesson firearm was used by a gunman in the February 2019 mass shooting at the Henry Pratt manufacturing plant in Aurora, where five company employees were fatally shot and five police officers injured.
Irvin was mayor of Aurora at the time of the shooting, and a campaign aide told WBEZ Irvin does not take issue with Citadel’s investments and holdings.
“How do you talk about what the governor is doing about crime when you are a major investor to the very industry and the gun manufacturers that are the major contributors to the crime and the violence in our cities,” Pfleger said. “How hypocritical is that?”