Gov. J.B. Pritzker wouldn't say Monday if his cousin Thomas Pritzker should step down as chairman and CEO of The Pritzker Organization after Thomas Pritzker’s name was brought up in the Jeffrey Epstein underage sex-trafficking scandal.

Epstein was found dead Saturday morning in his New York jail cell, where he was awaiting trial on charges of sex trafficking teenage girls. Officials suspect he killed himself, but the Department of Justice is investigating.

Epstein, a wealthy financier who had a long list of friendships with prominent people including former President Bill Clinton and current President Donald Trump, was found dead 24 hours after a federal lawsuit from one of the accusers was unsealed.

The Tampa Bay Times reported the lawsuit named prominent and wealthy men, including billionaire Thomas Pritzker, who is the chairman and CEO of The Pritzker Organization. Thomas Pritzker also is the executive chairman of Hyatt Hotels Corp. Board of Directors.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker was asked in Springfield on Monday if Thomas Pritzker should step down from The Pritzker Organization because of the allegations.

“First of all, I was unaware if [Thomas Pritzker] knew Jeffrey Epstein at all,” the governor said. “And as you know, I did not, do not. At this moment, I would just say that justice needs to be pursued here. There, of course, are some terrible things that were alleged here that Jeffrey Epstein seems to have done and so I hope that the justice system will pursue the allegations that were made to the fullest extent of the law and make sure the victims get the justice that they deserve.”

Other men named in the lawsuit included former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, hedge fund manager Glenn Dubin, the late MIT scientist Marvin Minsky, modeling agent Jean-Luc Brunel, among others.

The Tampa Bay Times reported the allegations were universally denied.

Staff Writer

Greg Bishop reports on Illinois government and other statewide issues for The Center Square. Bishop has years of award-winning broadcast experience, and previously hosted “Bishop On Air,” a morning-drive current events talk show.