Durkin chief of staff cited a number of times in Tribune's lottery investigation
Michael Mahoney, the chief of staff for House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs), was cited multiple times in a recent Chicago Tribune story about an investigation into improper relationships between Illinois Lottery and legislative staff and lobbyists for the British firm Camelot, the Lottery’s new management team.
The story detailed the results of an investigation by an outside law firm hired when it became known that Illinois Lottery second-in-command Jayme Odom failed to disclose contact with superlobbyist Nancy Kimme, who represents Camelot, while Camelot was vying to replace the troubled Northstar Lottery Group to manage the lottery. It was Kimme who originally recommended Odom for the Lottery job. Odom also did not disclose a friendship with Eric Elk, another Camelot lobbyist.
Also uncovered in the investigation was the fact that Mahoney, who also helped vet the lottery proposal, has a friendship with Elk, which he did not disclose.
The law firm, Hinshaw & Culbertson, concluded that Odom and Mahoney should have disclosed their relationships with the lobbyists, and Odom should have disclosed her contact with Kimme.
The Tribune report also said that Odom and Mahoney told investigators that they revealed their relationships with the lobbyists late in 2016 to a five-person committee assembled to vet the move from Northstar to Camelot. But the Tribune reported “investigators questioned the ‘veracity’ of those statements, noting that Mahoney had changed his story and that others present at the committee meeting didn’t back up their claims.”
“One top procurement official who attended the meeting, Jan Morrow, was ‘emphatic’ that no committee member had discussed being friends with a lobbyist, let alone a lobbyist with the firm they were evaluating,” the report said.
Besides using her influence to place Odom at the Lottery, Kimme also got Mahoney placed in Durkin’s office, according to an earlier Prairie State Wire story.
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 by the Tribune.
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 stated 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," said state Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton), who is challenging Rauner in the Republican primary.