CHICAGO – Gov. Rod Blagojevich today announced five appointees to the Illinois Gaming Board and unveiled a gaming reform package that would strengthen ethics requirements for the Illinois Gaming Board members and staff.
The Governor named five members to the Illinois Gaming Board: three appointments are effective March 21, and two will go into effect in July when the remaining two members’ terms expire. The Governor’s appointees are:
· Judge Aaron Jaffe, who will serve as chairman of the Illinois Gaming Board, retired in late 2004 from a nineteen-year career on the Cook County bench, in both the Law and Chancery Divisions. During his tenure he decided corporate and partnership disputes, contract matters, class actions, administrative law matters, and other complex equitable cases. He taught at University of Loyola School of Law and received mediation training at the National Judicial College. Judge Jaffe served in the Illinois House of Representatives from 1971 to 1985, where he chaired the Judiciary Committee and the Legislative Investigating Commission. (effective March 21)
· Rev. Eugene Winkler is a retired Methodist minister and social activist. Before retiring, he presided over several charitable and service organizations, including Protestants for the Common Good and the Interfaith Coalition for the Homeless in Chicago. Rev. Winkler also served on various boards in Chicago, including the Better Government Association in Chicago, the Center for Ethics and Corporate Policy, and the Illinois Division of the ACLU. (effective March 21)
· Charles Gardner is manager of a small, family-owned real estate investment company. Before retiring, he was president and CEO, and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Chicago Dock and Canal Trust, a real estate investment trust in Chicago. He started his career as a CPA with Arthur Anderson in Denver. Mr. Gardner currently serves on the Roosevelt University Board and was formerly on the board of directors of Lohan Caprile Goettsch architects, the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, and Lawson House YMCA. (effective March 21)
· Sheila Simon, daughter of late U.S. Senator Paul Simon, is a law professor at Southern Illinois University where she has taught courses in family law, argumentation, and legal reasoning and writing. She worked as an Assistant State’s Attorney in Jackson County from 1994 until 1998. Simon has also served on numerous state and local bar association committees, including a committee that organizes annual training for domestic battery prosecutors in Illinois. (effective July 2)
· Joe Moore, Jr. was a 30-year employee of Shell Oil Company, where he served as Manager of Community Relations overseeing the company’s local education program. He now operates the Moore Group, a public affairs group specializing in social investment strategy and public policy. Mr. Moore is active on several boards, including the Illinois Service Federal Saving and Loan, Chicago Convention and Tourism Bureau, and the Cosmopolitan Chamber of Commerce. (effective July 2)
The Governor’s ethics proposal would prohibit Gaming Board members and staff and their families from being employed by or having any financial interest in a casino licensee; ban Board members and staff from accepting employment or taking a financial interest in the gaming industry for five years after leaving the Gaming Board; prohibit Board members and staff from gambling at riverboats or racetracks; require Board members to publicly report any informal discussions about Board decisions within 24 hours; and expand financial disclosure requirements for casino licensees and their stakeholders.
Specifically, the Governor’s proposal would:
o Strictly prohibit Board members, Board employees, Department of Revenue employees who work for the Board and their families from having a financial interest in or being employed by a casino licensee. Currently, only Board members and their families are completely prohibited from having a financial interest in a casino, Board staff can have an interest of up to $25,000 and employees of the Department of Revenue – which oversees the Gaming Board – are under no restrictions whatsoever.
o Extend the “revolving door provision” for Gaming Board members and staff. Instead of the current one-year prohibition on accepting employment with a gaming enterprise after leaving the Board, the new restriction would last for five years and would prohibit Board members, Board employees and Revenue employees who work for the Board from accepting employment or a financial stake in any casino or horseracing enterprise.
o Ban Gaming Board members and employees from gambling at riverboats and racetracks. Violators would be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, and their winnings would be paid into the State Gaming Fund.
o Strengthen restrictions on ex-parte communications by requiring Board members and staff to disclose and add to the public record any informal conversations they have in which someone tries to influence the Board’s decisions by the next business day, or face termination.
- Improve transparency by requiring public disclosure of all of the financial interests of anyone who holds a gaming license and anyone who holds any financial interest in the license, regardless of what percentage of the license they own. Current law only requires licensees to disclose investors with a beneficial interest of at least 1%, and other enterprises or businesses in which the licensee holds interests of more than 5%.
The Governor also asked Chris Anderson, Director of the Gambling Recovery Center in Evanston, to work with the Board to develop ideas the Board can implement to help people with gambling addictions. Anderson will begin working with the Board immediately to develop and institute new reforms.
“We have spent a great deal of time considering how best to regulate gaming in Illinois to ensure the best interest of the public is always paramount. Ultimately, we decided we need a new Gaming Board with no connections to the industry and no history with the recent wrangling over the 10th license. The five individuals we are announcing today all bring the utmost integrity and respect for the public’s trust. I’m honored that they accepted my invitation to serve,” the Governor said.