Illinois Exporting It’s Unique Brand of Crazy to a Locale Near You


It’s not like it’s a shock to anyone that Illinois is full of corruption. Heck, of the last seven governors, five spent their twilight years stamping license plates in orange jumpsuits (the governors, not the license plates). Even the low level bureaucrats in Illinois can taste the dream of one day owning the spotlight and a hundred half-witted committeemen.

Recently, the market has been a bit...flooded…in Chicago. With Jesse Jackson, Jr. and his family dominating headlines, what is a wannabe corruptocrat to do? Well, export his special brand of manipulation to lots of sweet, naive, unsuspecting states.

Meet Mike Jones, Illinois Lottery Chief. He 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.

Indiana, the first state on his Lottery Privatization Warning Tour of America, didn’t listen to him (in fact, Indiana governor Mitch Daniels called privatizing the lottery like Illinois was one of the best decisions of his career). But watch out, America. He’s headed to your state next. Here he showed up to Pennsylvania.

“Given the example of Illinois, why would any state opt for the same system?” [IL Lottery Director Mike] Jones said. “[Northstar] was only hired because of its ability to meet revenue targets, but it has immediately disputed those.” He is trying to get the word out to other states not to lock in such long contracts and to make any privatization a truly competitive process in which the state can fire companies that aren’t performing.

The good news is, the Illinois now-private lottery is earning loads of money for the state. Which means anyone who follows suit is likely to find the same. But not if you follow this guy. Because he’s out to make sure no one ever does. The best part of it? He’s making all of these trips on the Illinois’ taxpayers’ dime, which means the people of Illinois are paying for someone to travel around badmouthing their only functioning program. And he even has some highly paid assistants they pay for as well. Good news for everyone.

I’d say watch out, but it’s unlikely that you can prevent him from crossing into your state’s territory. Just pray they recognize where he’s from and don’t listen.

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