A Pritzker heir was about to co-host a Biden fundraiser in L.A. Then he was accused of sexual misconduct
A scion of the politically connected and wealthy Pritzker family who was slated to co-host a fundraiser for President Biden on Friday in Los Angeles was removed from invitations to the event after he was accused of unwanted sexual acts and sued for $25 million.
Matthew Pritzker, 41, whose uncles started the Hyatt hotel chain, had been listed as a co-host on a November invite for Biden’s first fundraising appearance in Los Angeles since the end of the entertainment industry strikes. His cousin, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, is co-chair of Biden’s campaign. But Matthew Pritzker is not named on an updated invitation circulating among Hollywood donors this week.
The updated invite, reviewed by The Times, includes new co-hosts and the news that musician Lenny Kravitz will perform at the event, which Biden’s supporters are hoping will reopen the entertainment industry’s spigot of cash in support of his reelection bid.
Democrats avoided fundraising in Hollywood because of the entertainment-industry strikes. Now the floodgates are opening.
In a lawsuit filed Nov. 23 in New York State Supreme Court, attorneys for a woman using the pseudonym “Jane Doe” allege that “Pritzker engaged in sexual acts with Plaintiff without her consent, and while she was incapacitated and could not provide consent.”
Pritzker didn’t respond to repeated requests from The Times for comment.
The plaintiff’s attorneys, Raju Sundaran and Justin T. Kelton, say in the lawsuit that the alleged incident occurred May 31, 2009, in Upper Manhattan. Sundaran declined to comment on behalf of their client.
Pritzker has not listed an attorney or responded to the allegations in court. A New York State Supreme Court judge asked that the investor respond to the allegations by Dec. 13 and that he or his lawyer appear before the judge two days later.
The remaining co-hosts for Friday’s fundraiser include directors Steven Spielberg and Rob Reiner, producers Shonda Rhimes and Peter Chernin and former studio chief Jim Gianopulos, according to an invitation obtained by The Times. Other co-hosts include billionaire businessman and unsuccessful Los Angeles mayoral candidate Rick Caruso, former ambassadors, tech leaders, corporate honchos and prominent attorneys.
The event is expected to draw big-name donors spending as much as nearly $930,000 apiece in support of the Democratic leader’s bid for reelection. It will be held at the home of interior designer Michael Smith and James Costos, who served as U.S. ambassador to Spain under President Obama. Smith helped redesign the White House under Obama.
Representatives of the Biden campaign declined to comment.
Pritzker’s extended family has donated to progressive causes and long wielded influence in Democratic Party politics. Penny Pritzker, the Illinois governor’s sister and cousin to Matthew Pritzker, served as Obama’s secretary of Commerce from 2013-17 and more recently was tapped as Biden’s special representative for Ukraine’s economic recovery.
San Francisco-based members of the Pritzker family have been generous supporters of Gov. Gavin Newsom in his ascent through California electoral politics.
Matthew Pritzker became a successful investor after receiving a settlement in a multibillion-dollar lawsuit against his father and members of his extended family.
He has also been a prolific political donor — giving about $2.35 million to Democratic candidates and causes at the federal level over the last decade or so. That included about $25,600 to the 2020 Biden campaign and groups that supported it. In 2016, he gave about $600,000 to groups supporting former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s presidential run.
This lawsuit against Pritzker is one of many filed in New York state under 2022 legislation known as the Adult Survivors Act. The legislation created a one-year period starting that November when alleged victims of sexual misconduct could file civil lawsuits in cases that fell outside the statute of limitations.
The Associated Press reported that more than 2,500 lawsuits were filed under the law, including against former President Trump, rapper Sean “Diddy” Combs and actor Russell Brand.
Times staff writers Seema Mehta and Courtney Subramanian contributed to this report.
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