Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Rod ignored IG on lottery probe

Governor Rod Blagojevich and his spokespeople were saying all weekend that the administration is rooting out corruption through his inspector general.

Because the inspector general's actions are almost completely secret, we have little hard evidence either way to evaluate that spin. That's probably why Rod is using that defense, one of the few that he has remaining.

Well, there's one story out there that directly contradicts that claim. The Associated Press reported last May that the administration rebuffed the IG's recommendation on a questionable payment to a politically connected lottery vendor.

The governor's executive inspector general has referred her Illinois State Lottery investigation to the attorney general, a move that can happen when she finds wrongdoing and her recommendation for disciplinary action is ignored.

A source familiar with the investigation said on condition of anonymity Wednesday that Gov. Rod Blagojevich and the Department of Revenue, which oversees the lottery, took no action on recommendations involving the lottery investigation.

The referral became public Wednesday, a day after the executive inspector general, Zaldwaynaka "Z." Scott, announced she would leave her post in July to join a law firm.
The contract in question was worth millions of dollars.

The latest investigation dogging the governor is into a contract involving advertising for the Illinois State Lottery.

A state audit found that Illinois paid R.J. Dale Advertising & Public Relations of Chicago $7.1 million to promote the lottery, but the firm could document only $2 million worth of work. Madigan spokeswoman Melissa Merz said Wednesday that issues related to the lottery were referred by Scott's office on April 28, but declined further comment.

Deputy Inspector General Mary Anderson confirmed the office referred the case to Madigan, but declined to comment on specifics. She confirmed that a final report regarding the lottery was sent to the governor's office and the Department of Revenue on Sept. 30.

Blagojevich spokeswoman Abby Ottenhoff had no immediate comment. Revenue Department spokeswoman Geraldine Conrad referred questions to the executive inspector general.

Robert J. Dale, president of the firm, said his firm has done nothing wrong and there were no discrepancies in the work his firm did for the state.

Earlier Wednesday, Blagojevich said Dale's firm had successfully driven up lottery sales and the problem was simply how it accounted for its costs. He said his administration is conducting its own review of the firm and expects to have a report as early as this week.

"Pressure needs to be put on him. I applaud all the pressure being put on him in addition to our office," the governor said.
When in doubt, applaud the investigations of corruption in his administration. The spin is consistent from the Blagojevich camp.

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