CHICAGO — The owner of a mansion used to film a Gov. Bruce Rauner ad mocking a J.B. Pritzker property-tax cut also benefited from a sizable reduction in the home's assessment after an appeal in Lake County, records show.
The Republican governor's campaign team used a Lake Forest mansion owned by Jeffrey Brincat, CEO of Consumer Financial Services Corp. of Waukegan, as the setting for the new ad that dubs Rauner's Democratic challenger the "porcelain prince of tax avoidance."
Records show Brincat and his wife, Kelly, donated $13,000 to Rauner's first campaign for governor and in March 2015, the governor named Brincat to the Illinois Racing Board, which he now chairs.
Brincat's home, known as Bluff's Edge, according to a 2013 Chicago magazine article, is shown in the ad as workers carry toilets out the front door and place them outside the opulent mansion.
The ad is a reference to Pritzker, who gained a property tax break on a neighboring Gold Coast mansion he bought and appealed his assessment contending it was uninhabitable after toilets were disconnected.
Lake County records show that for the 2017 property tax year, the mansion used in the ad was appraised at more than $1.7 million for property tax purposes. But on appeal, the Lake County Board of Review lowered the assessment by nearly $188,000 to $1.5 million.
Another nearby mansion owned by the Brincats but not featured in the ad also received a lowered assessment on appeal, from $1.27 million to nearly $1.21 million, records showed.
Brincat did not respond to a request for comment at his Waukegan business.
Alex Browning, a spokesman for the Rauner campaign, contended the Brincats' action was different than Pritzker's.
"Mr. Brincat's property tax reassessment is a standard appeal that many homeowners in Illinois file annually. Pritzker altered the structure and function of a home, made the argument that it was 'uninhabitable,' and used insider connections with (Cook County Assessor Joe) Berrios' office to save $230,000 in taxes."
In the 2013 Chicago magazine story, Brincat said he was selling the Bluff's Edge mansion he restored at a listed price of $6.5 million because he believed the state's pension obligations and high taxes "are going to evolve into something substantially worse." He said he was moving his family to Tennessee.
But tax records show the Brincats still own the mansion, a 1928 Georgian. Chicago magazine described the home as having seven bedrooms located across the street from the town's beach, sitting on 4 acres. The Brincats bought the property while it was in foreclosure for $5.2 million in 2010.
Campaign records show Brincat has given $88,449 to state candidates and causes since 2007. In addition to Rauner, Brincat has given $35,000 to the unsuccessful efforts to put on the ballot a proposed constitutional amendment for the politically independent drawing of legislative districts, $10,800 to the Illinois Republican Party in 2015 and $2,500 to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's re-election bid.