Beer Tickets Lead to Ethics Violations for Fair Managers

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By Stephanie Tyrpak
By Jared Roberts

ILLINOIS -- Beer sales have landed two state fair managers in hot water. Those drinks are sold by the ticket during the fair. However, a government investigation found how those tickets were handled did not follow the state's ethics rules.

The ethics decision released on Monday is against former Du Quoin State Fair Manager, John Rednour Jr., and current Illinois State Fair Manager, Amy Bliefnick. 
 
Rednour has been fined $5,000 and agreed to not take any state jobs for five years. Bliefnick served a two-day suspension and was fined $1,000.
 
You can read the full decision here
 
The rides and shows of the state's two fairs are always big draw for visitors of all ages. For the 21 and older crowd, beer tickets also bring in a lot of money. 
 
Those $4 beverages are now part of an ethics ruling against Rednour and Bliefneck.
 
The case goes back to 2012. That's when Alongi's won the contract for beer sales. The decision from the Executive Ethics Commission states that Rednour approached the vendor about getting "a roll or two" of free beer tickets. A roll typically contains 1,000 tickets worth about $4,000.
 
"All state employees go through ethics training every year," said Director of Ethics Training and Compliance David Morrision. "In Rednour's case, he had been through training at least twice before this came up."
 
The Office of Executive Inspector General calls the move a violation of the 2003 Ethics Act. It was brought to their attention through a formal complaint.
 
"They're paid a salary," said Morrison. "They're supposed to run their duties based on that salary and should not be asking for outside considerations."
 
Rednour argues that he was trying to run the fair like a business and not using the tickets for personal gain. Instead, he gave them out to visitors and guests for promotions. He says fair managers had always asked for the tickets without any problems and that he let Alongi's know that they weren't required to hand them over.
 
Still, Rednour signed off on the details in the commission's ruling. The state believes the tickets are a matter of public trust.
     
"People who go to the fair should know that the fair is being run for the benefit of all people and that people who run the fair are not getting special benefits," said Morrison. 
 
Rednour added that he never received the tickets from Alongi's and that the money the state loses on the fair every year went down by hundreds of thousands of dollars while he was manager. He says that this investigation did not play a role in his decision to leave the fair. 
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