A short while ago, we showed you how Illinois Lottery Director Mike Jones stuck his nose in Indiana’s private lottery procurement process, unsuccessfully criticizing Illinois’ successes in that regard, potentially because he lost a bid for Illinois' lottery contract himself. During his anti-Illinois lottery campaign, Jones made two trips to Indianapolis - one in October 2011 and another in March 2012. We question the value of such trips for Illinois taxpayers. Indeed, upon close examination of roughly a year’s worth of Jones’ travel vouchers, we have even more questions.
It’s no secret that Illinois is broke. As lawmakers in Springfield do what they please, Illinois taxpayers are shouldering the burden. In just a few short years, our property taxes and income taxes have skyrocketed, and businesses (and people) have left the state in droves as doing business in Illinois becomes more expensive by the day. Although Illinois families struggle to put food on the table, Springfield bureaucrats and politicians wine and dine themselves. And Mike Jones appears to be no exception.
According to Jones’ travel vouchers obtained by Illinois Review, in a little over a year, Mr. Jones has traveled to Washington, DC (twice), San Francisco, London, Rome, Ireland, Atlanta, Montreal, Las Vegas (twice) and Barcelona. Nice work if you can get it. And with Illinois’ unemployment rate at 8.8%, we imagine many who are out of work would love a job with such perks.
We have no doubt Mr. Jones conducted some business while away on the taxpayers’ dime, but the troubling words “personal time” keep popping up on his travel vouchers while he was in places such as London and Rome.
Mr. Jones’ travel has not gone unnoticed in Springfield. Illinois Review spoke to Senator Matt Murphy to get a sense of how Jones' actions have been received.
"In these tight economic times and in these difficult budget times, it would be extremely difficult to justify the taxpayers sending the lottery director overseas, or frankly domestic travel either."
“That's always the question: with the expenditure of taxpayer dollars - what sort of return are we getting on that investment, and in his tenure as the lottery director thus far there have been questions raised. It's fair to question whether those trips are somehow producing a benefit for the taxpayer," Murphy added.