Citadel Securities, the firm founded by mega-wealthy Illinoisan Ken Griffin, works with a company that got major help from Aurora Mayor and gubernatorial hopeful Richard Irvin – the same GOP candidate Griffin’s so far backed to the tune of $20 million. That’s according to a Bloomberg story published Thursday.
WTTW News previously reported that communications company Scientel Solutions and its employees have given more than $135,000 to Irvin’s mayoral campaign, a PAC run by his mayoral campaign manager, and his former private practice law partner Brittany Pedersen’s judicial campaign. Pedersen is a Democratic candidate for the Kane County Circuit Court bench.
Irvin heavily backed Scientel’s effort to build a controversial communications tower reportedly used for high frequency trading over the objections of a competitor and members of Aurora City Council. Critics say Irvin strong-armed aldermen to back the Scientel tower. The council eventually reversed a previous vote and allowed Scientel’s tower to be built.
High-frequency trading firms like Citadel use computer algorithms to make huge volumes of transactions very quickly. The faster they do it, the more money they can make – meaning the speed at which they transmit their orders can translate directly into money. According to an email obtained by Bloomberg, Scientel worked with Griffin’s Citadel Securities to build a wireless network.
“We absolutely can’t f*ck this up,” the message says, with Citadel’s goal being to “position ourselves to build a lot more.”
After the WTTW News report on the relationship between Scientel and Irvin – and industry rumors reported by Bloomberg that Scientel and Citadel worked together – a Citadel spokesperson told WTTW News the company did not use Scientel’s tower.
But in Thursday’s story, Bloomberg reports that Scientel has placed communications equipment on another company’s nearby structure – and cites someone with direct knowledge of the deal who said Scientel’s antenna was only used by Griffin’s firm.
“Conspiracy theories aside, Ken’s support for Richard Irvin is solely based on the belief that Mayor Irvin is the best candidate to tackle the severe problems facing Illinois,” a Citadel spokesperson told Bloomberg.
In addition to getting help from Irvin to get its communications tower built, Scientel also received $3.1 million in contracts from the city of Aurora.
“All of Scientel’s contracts went through a competitive bid process managed by a third party in which third party made the recommendations to City Staff who then selected Scientel as the prime. These decisions are generally made on the basis of the applicant’s experience and pricing,” Scientel CEO Nelson Santos, a longtime Irvin ally, told WTTW News last month.
Contact Nick Blumberg: [email protected] | (773) 509-5434 | @ndblumberg