Billionaire to billionaire, Neil Bluhm told Sam Zell how it feels: The super wealthy are often the targets of opprobrium these days, and they don’t like it.

“You know, I’m embarrassed if somebody says I’m a billionaire,” Bluhm told Zell at a conference in Chicago. “It’s like I’m a criminal.”

Bluhm may be overstating it, but not by a lot. In politics today, there’s often a default assumption that people with nine zeros to their names are somehow the source of our political, fiscal or social ills. Progressives in Congress have encouraged the notion that billionaires cause harm and new taxes should eat into their fortunes.

Illinois has gotten a taste of the power billionaires can exert on a state’s politics.

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David Greising is the president and chief executive of the Better Government Association, joining the BGA in 2018. For nearly a century, the BGA has fought for honest and effective government through investigative journalism and policy advocacy.

Greising’s career started at the City News Bureau of Chicago, with stops at the Chicago Sun-Times, Business Week magazine, the Chicago Tribune and Reuters. He was a co-founder of the Chicago News Cooperative and worked briefly as a consultant to World Business Chicago. Today, Greising writes on government issues in regular columns for the Tribune and Crain’s Chicago Business.

Under Greising’s leadership, the BGA has played a key role in uncovering public corruption amidst the wide-ranging federal probe, starting with an in-depth report about Ald. Ed Burke’s conflicts of interest before the federal charges against Burke. The BGA also has exposed waste and fraud at O’Hare and the proliferation of corruption and poverty into Dolton, Lyons and other Chicago suburbs. The BGA’s policy team has led calls for ethics reform in Chicago’s City Council and in state government.