State Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) said that a news report of previously undisclosed relationships between Illinois Lottery and legislative staffers, and lobbyists representing the lottery’s new management firm, demonstrate how little control Gov. Bruce Rauner has over state government affairs.
"Gov. Rauner isn't in charge so institutional interests in Springfield filled the power vacuum left by the governor to line their pockets at taxpayer expense," Ives said in a statement. "Rather than shaking up Springfield, and turn Illinois around, the governor has allowed Springfield insiders to shake down Illinois families while he turned away from the fight."
The conservative Ives is challenging Rauner in the GOP primary.
A Jan. 5 report in the Chicago Tribune about the findings of an investigation into the relationships reveals that the lottery’s second-in-command, Jayme Odom, was placed in that position through the influence of super lobbyist and power broker, Nancy Kimme, a former Republican staffer who is tight with the Rauner administration. Kimme represents Camelot, the British firm that started managing the lottery on Tuesday. The investigation by an outside law firm found that Kimme reached out to Odom on behalf of Camelot during the procurement process.
The Tribune report said investigators determined Odom failed to disclose not only the contact with Kimme but a friendship with another lobbyist for Camelot, Eric Elk. Both lapses violated the lottery’s conflict-of-interest statement and the Illinois Code of Personal Conduct, the report said.
“Nancy Kimme is yet another commentary on Rauner's abdication of leadership and betrayal of Illinois Republicans,” Ives said.
In addition, the investigation found that Michael Mahoney, senior adviser to House Republican Leader Jim Durkin, who helped vet the lottery proposal, failed to disclose a relationship with Elk. Kimme used her influence to place Mahoney in Durkin’s office.
The Tribune further noted that despite the Rauner administration’s pledge of transparency in picking a new lottery manager, officials did not publicly acknowledge any questions about the handling of the bid until contacted Wednesday by the Tribune. The administration had hired the law firm Hinshaw & Culbertson to investigate in early November.
The Camelot deal was another in a series of multimillion-dollar state contract wins for Kimme’s clients. An Aug. 27 Prairie State Wire story showed that since 2015, when the 55-year-old Kimme ended 25 years as a government employee and jumped into the lobbying business, 29 of her clients had received 2,878 state contracts worth nearly $17 billion, according to state budget and lobbyist registration records.
The clients run the gamut from software vendors and construction companies to local governments and social service providers. Some even compete with one another, the story said.
“When there is a lucrative contract to be had one finds Nancy Kimme wetting her beak," Ives said.
Kimme was chief of staff for former Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka and chair of Citizens for Judy Baar Topinka. A September Prairie Wire story revealed that in January 2015, Kimme wrote a series of checks from the campaign account – payments that totaled $159,908, including $25,000 to herself, $15,000 to various hotels and restaurants in Chicago and Springfield, and $41,500 to then current or soon-to-be Rauner administration officials.
State law dictates that money leftover in a campaign fund as of June 30, 1998, go back to the donors, to another political campaign or to a charitable cause.