One meeting to be aware of for the final week of veto session next week:
The Legislative Audit Commission will meet at 9:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 5, in Room C-1 of the Stratton Building to talk about both a troubling audit of the state Lottery by Auditor General Bill Holland from the summer and questions raised about the hiring of a company connected to Lottery Superintendent Michael Jones.
State Rep. Bob Rita, a member of the Audit Commission, asked the co-chairs for this focus on the Lottery to dig deeper into both of these issues. Below and attached is a press release I sent a few weeks back when Bob first called for the hearing, along with a letter he wrote the co-chairs asking for the hearing. Also attached is a hearing agenda.
Let me know if you think you’ll be able to cover this hearing or need anything before or afterward.
Ryan KeithRK PR Solutions
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Rep. Rita Calls for Answers on State Lottery Contracting
Media Investigation Raises Important Questions About Ties Between Business and Lottery Director
Date: Sept. 30, 2013 Contact: Ryan Keith,217-737-7369
BLUE ISLAND – State Rep. Bob Rita is calling for answers in the wake of a joint media investigation that alleges the state Lottery director helped steer business to his former company.
The Better Government Association and WFLD-TV Fox 32 in Chicago last week reported that Jones lobbied the Lottery’s private operator, Northstar Lottery Group, to give a contract worth nearly $170,000 to a company that Jones formerly owned.
The report also contended that Jones initially lobbied in 2011 for a research contract to go to the company but that idea was rejected when the governor’s office learned of the situation. The company then changed its name, and Jones later successfully persuaded Northstar to give it the contract – a move Northstar says it made under strong urging by Jones.
Rita, a Blue Island Democrat who now heads the House’s consideration of gambling legislation, said he was troubled both by the allegations and Jones’ responses to the reporters. He is asking the Legislative AuditCommission, which he sits on, to look further into this contract and a troubling audit from the summer that raised extensive questions about bookkeeping and financial management at the Lottery.
“We now have more questions than answers,” Rita said. “We have worked in Springfield to tighten our contracting and lobbying laws to try to restore faith with taxpayers that we know the difference between right and wrong. Investigations like this demand better explanations. I would ask Mr. Jones to come clean about his relationship with his former firm and urge my colleagues in Springfield to take a closer look at how we can prevent these kinds of situations from happening again.”
The BGA-Fox investigation can be found here: http://www.myfoxaustin.com/story/23509752/what-are-the-odds-ill-lottery-paid-for-contracts-to-lotto-chiefs-old-company
Rep. Frank Mautino
Sen. Jason Barickman
Legislative Audit Commission
622 Stratton Building
Springfield, IL 62706
Oct. 2, 2013
To Co-Chairmen Mautino and Barickman:
I am writing you to request that the Illinois Legislative Audit Commission look further into troubling questions raised in recent months about management and hiring practices at the Illinois Lottery.
On June 19, 2013, Auditor General William Holland released an audit of the Illinois Lottery that uncovered a number of concerning findings about errors, inaccuracies and incomplete data. Auditors noted material weaknesses in the Department of Lottery’s internal control structure over its financial and fiscal operations. It appears from this audit that the Lottery has accumulated approximately $200 million in errors. We must look more closely at the agency’s handling of valuable taxpayer dollars.
Additionally, an investigation in late September by the Better Government Association and WFLD-TV Fox 32 in Chicago raised serious questions about ties between a contractor hired to do research for the Lottery and Lottery Director Michael Jones. The investigation alleged, among other findings, that the company changed its name to help secure business from the agency after it was originally passed over because of concerns raised by the governor’s office.
I am requesting that the Legislative Audit Commission consider this matter as soon as possible, given the seriousness of the questions that have been raised. I would ask that you consider placing this on the agenda for the next Commission meeting that could be scheduled for the upcoming fall veto session so we can address it right away. Please contact me at 708-396-2822 if you have any questions or would like to talk further about this matter.
Rep. Bob Rita
D-Blue Island, 28th House District
Member, Legislative Audit Commission