If the Illinois State Fair manager and the director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture thought they could avoid questions about this week's news of ethics violations by current and former fair managers, they were sadly mistaken. The transgressions, violations of the state's gift ban, were Topic A after a long-planned and customary news conference previewing the fair in Springfield, which begins with the Twilight Parade and Preview Night Thursday. Illinois State Fair manager Amy Bliefnick accepted beer tickets from a vendor, served a two-day unpaid suspension, and paid a $1,000 fine.
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Former Du Quoin State Fair manager John Rednour, Jr., not only accepted tickets, he solicited them. His penalty was a $5,000 fine. The tickets, Bliefnick and Rednour say, were given away to volunteers and for promotional purposes. The ag department and Bliefnick had e-mailed statements after the news broke Monday, but reporters were not satisfied.
“I did everything I could to promote the Illinois State Fair,” said Bliefnick. “I did not realize it was a violation. It was a violation. I've learned from it, and I'm going to move forward, and that's all I'm going to say about it. That's the story, and I appreciate it. If you want to ask questions about the State Fair, I'm more than happy to (answer them). Otherwise, that's it.”
Flider would not venture an opinion for public consumption about the crime or punishment. “I would just say that the (Office of the Executive) Inspector General put out the report. It's all laid out there, and Amy has made a statement,” Flider said. “It's probably not for me to say, but it is time to move on, and look forward to putting on a great State Fair.”