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I-Team: State Fair leaders rapped for beer ticket violations

The leaders of both major state fairs in Illinois have been found in violation of state ethics rules for accepting tickets for free beer at the fair that they then passed out. (WLS)
Monday, July 28, 2014
The leaders of both major state fairs in Illinois have been found in violation of state ethics rules for accepting tickets for free beer at the fair that they then passed out.

There is a beer stink at the state fair, still a month away, but the current director of the fair in Springfield, Amy Bliefnick, has been found in violation of state ethics rules that prohibit taking gifts from state vendors. In this case, free beer tickets at the fair she runs from the vendor she pays.

Also Monday night, the former head of the Duquoin State Fair, Illinois other major fair event, has also been rapped by the ethics commission for his beer grab.

Normally, the manager of the Illinois State Fair is seen judging one of the dignified attractions at the beloved event in Springfield.

Monday night though, it is her role along Main Street that has the attention of state ethics regulators, at the beer stands, where according to an Inspector General report out Monday, the Springfield fair manager has accepted free beer tickets since 2005 when she first took the position.

Monday night, that has resulted in a knuckle rap by the ethics panel for violation of the Illinois public official gift ban.

She was docked $754 in pay and the commission imposed a $1,000 fine.

The state fair boss tells the I-Team: "As is noted in the report, as state fair manager I accepted the tickets for distribution only to promote the fair. This practice will no longer continue at the fair. I learned a valuable lesson and look forward to a great state fair this year."

Also cited for beer ticket violations was the longtime, recently departed head of the Duquion State Fair.

The Duquoin Fair manager was found to have accepted 1,000-2,000 free beer tickets from the state vendor.

Ex-Duquion manager John Rednour Jr. claims free tickets from the fair's beer vendor has been standard practice. He told the Southern Newspaper that free beer tickets were handed out to new visitors, sponsors and, he says, members of the media, and maintains he only got about 500 of them over the years.

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