Chicagoland: Illinois Lottery Commissioner Attempted to Drive the State Game to His Former Company
September 24, 2013 - 12:36 pm
Fox 32 in Chicago reports on Illinois lottery superintendent Michael Jones, who the station has found to be steering government contracts to the company he owned until his appointment to the state lottery.
The decisions look corrupt on their face. The year after Illinois privatized its lottery, it reaped $100 million more in state revenues.
After all, following its privatization, the Illinois Lottery has greatly improved its take. In fiscal year 2012, the Lottery made $100 million more than it did in 2011, before privatization took effect.
So privatization seems to have worked. Yet, Mr. Jones – the acting superintendent of the Illinois lottery – has taken two separate occasions to dissuade other states from moving in the same direction.
Illinois Lottery Superintendent Michael Jones criticized Indiana’s search for a private lottery manager in August, saying Indiana officials didn’t seem to have learned from Illinois’ problem-plagued lottery outsourcing effort.
Jones’ objections are likely just sour grapes from his unsuccessful attempt to win the contract for himself, according to John Ruberry.
It may have something to do with his losing the lottery privatization contract war. Before this, his second, tenure as Illinois Lottery superintendent, Jones formed a company called ‘Your Lottery LLC’ to pursue the Illinois lottery contract for himself. He was listed by the Huffington Post as one of the top contenders for the contract. When he was interviewed, Jones spoke glowingly of the benefits a private company could bring to the state lottery, which severely lagged behind other states.
After failing in that, Jones also wanted those companies bidding the project to hire him as a consultant – unsuccessfully again.
When Jones withdrew from consideration and lost the contract, he changed his tune. Sources tell Illinois Review that Jones may have tried to contact other bidders, allegedly promising to ‘help’ them get the state contract in exchange for a large chunk of their proceeds. When all of the bidders turned Jones down, Jones decided the process, which wasn’t allowing him to get paid according to Illinois ‘rules of order,’ he soured on the privatization contract process and began his campaign.
[Jones] earned his reputation in Illinois by leaving his job for a little while and forming up an LLC to compete in the contract bidding process for Illinois lottery, which went private last year. He withdrew from consideration before the bidding process was finalized and then tried to sell his “expertise” as the former lottery director to other unsuspecting bidders. Weirdly, no one took him up on his offer, and when a private company won the contract, Mr. Jones immediately set about trashing Illinois Lottery privatization process. And did I mention he’s back to being Illinois Lottery director? Because he is.
As the top state official overseeing the Illinois Lottery, records show, Michael J. Jones has: (1) Tried to get the private company that runs the lottery to hire his daughter’s ballet company for a promotion. (2) Hired a consultant who got more than $115,000 for four months of work assisting with Internet lottery sales — even though the private lottery manager oversees those sales. The same consultant made another $46,000 in that time working for Illinois Senate President John J. Cullerton (D-Chicago), who met her through Jones. (3) Found himself facing questions raised by the lottery manager’s lawyer over free tickets to professional basketball, baseball and hockey games that he and other state employees got.
It’s all part of the “Chicago way…”