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A state probe found State Fair Director Amy Bliefnick sought and accepted at least $540 in free beer tickets during the 2012 State Fair from the vendor in charge of beer sales. Bliefnick accepted at least 120 beer tickets from the vendor and gave them to state officials and her staff, as well as state fair volunteers and visitors, according to the report released Monday. | AP Photo

Ethics panel raps state fair directors for beer ticket freebies

 
A state probe found State Fair Director Amy Bliefnick sought and accepted at least $540 in free beer tickets during the 2012 State Fair from the vendor in charge of beer sales. Bliefnick accepted at least 120 beer tickets from the vendor and gave them to state officials and her staff, as well as state fair volunteers and visitors, according to the report released Monday. | AP Photo

Ethics panel raps state fair directors for beer ticket freebies

SPRINGFIELD — Accepting free beer and overseeing either of Illinois’ two state fairs don’t mix. That was the conclusion of the Illinois Executive Ethics Commission, which Monday announced fines against the current and former managers of the Illinois State Fair and DuQuoin State Fair for breaching the Illinois gift ban.

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, speaks to lawmakers on the House floor during session at the state Capitol on May 23, 2014, in Springfield, Ill. | Seth Perlman/AP

Legislative I.G. has financial ties to Madigan, other lawmakers

THE WATCHDOGS: The Illinois General Assembly’s recently appointed acting legislative inspector general has a resume that includes stints as a state’s attorney, U.S. attorney and top aide to then-Gov. Jim Edgar. That mix of political and prosecutorial experience was key to legislators’ choice of J. William Roberts for the job. But it could raise questions about his ability to impartially investigate lawmakers to whom he has ties, including Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan.

Sunday is Frank Thomas Day in Illinois to honor the White Sox great. | AP

Quinn proclaims Frank Thomas Day in Illinois

Gov. Pat Quinn has signed a proclamation making Sunday Frank Thomas Day as the former Chicago White Sox slugger is inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Attorney General Lisa Madigan at a news conference earlier this month. File Photo. | Brian Jackson/ Sun-Times

Rival's poll suggests Lisa Madigan re-election no cakewalk

Does Lisa Madigan have a race on her hands? A new poll looking at the contest for Illinois Attorney General shows the Democratic incumbent leading her Republican opponent Paul Schimpf by just 9 percentage points. The poll was paid for by Schimpf, a retired Marine and newcomer to Illinois politics. But the numbers suggest that Madigan’s overall popularity with voters may be starting to erode. 

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie visits Portillo's restaurant on Friday afternoon along with Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner. | Richard A. Chapman/Sun-Times

Chris Christie brings $2.5 million gift for Rauner

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie came to Chicago Friday and gave Republican Bruce Rauner $2.5 million. With that the Republican Governors Association more than doubled its financial support of Rauner’s campaign for governor. “This is amongst the most important governor’s races in the country,” Christie said.

Republican candidate for governor Bruce Rauner shakes hands at a restaurant, during a campaign stop Friday in Chicago. (AP Photo/Stacy Thacker)

Rauner choosy about what corporate loopholes to close

Republican Bruce Rauner last month offered up his ideas for closing special interest tax loopholes. Noticeably missing from Rauner’s proposal, however, was a loophole Gov. Pat Quinn and other Democrats have argued would sensibly save the state $100 million a year. As it happens, that’s a loophole from which Rauner personally benefits.

Doomsday Clock ticks for Illinois

Remember the ominous “Doomsday Clock” with its symbolic “countdown” to a global disaster like nuclear war, and more recently, climate change? It’s also a useful way to consider another potential disaster much closer to home: Government meltdowns at all levels over the daunting challenge of funding retiree pensions and medical benefits, and providing basic programs and services, without imposing huge tax increases that drive businesses and individuals out of Illinois, or massive layoffs and draconian spending cuts that hurt people. 

 
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