The Daily Register - Harrisburg, IL
  • Former Du Quoin fair manager Rednour fined $5,000 for trying to tap Alongi’s for beer tickets

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  • The Illinois Executive Ethics Commission has fined former Du Quoin State Fair manager John Rednour Jr. $5,000 for trying to tap state fair beer tent operators Guy and John Alongi in 2012 for “a roll or two” of beer tent tickets valued at between $4,000 and $8,000.
    The commission says doing so violated the state’s gift ban policy.
    The commission added the provision in its decision that Rednour cannot seek or accept a state job for five years.
    Rednour is currently chairman of the board of the Du Quoin State Bank and chairman of the Democrat party in the Southern 20 counties. The latter is a political position, not a state position.
    The commission’s findings were issued at the same time Amy Bliefnick, manager of the Illinois State Fair, was fined $1,000 for violating gift ban provisions when she accepted at least $540 in free beer tickets from beer vendor Combined Veterans Association of Illinois during the 2013 state fair. Bliefnick said she did not solicit tickets from the vendor, but was offered the tickets by CVA.
    Rednour told the St. Louis Post Dispatch that the practice of getting free tickets from the fair’s beer vendor “didn’t start with me. It was standard practice for promotional purposes. Previous fair managers had done it, so I did it, too. But they were doing it before there was a gift ban.”
    A roll has 1,000 tickets on it ($4 per ticket x 1,000 tickets equals $4,000), but Rednour said he only received about 500 tickets.
    “It was purely for promotional purposes, not for personal gain, and it didn’t cost taxpayers a dime. The state was paid for every case of beer,” he said. “It’s the same as giving away free concert tickets, which we did all the time. It’s the way promotions are done in the real world.”
    There is an issue of disparity in the penalty against Rednour and the penalty against Bliefnick.
    Rednour was apparently refused tickets by the Alongi’s, got a $5,000 fine and no chance for a state job in the next five years.
    According to commission records Bliefnick accepted at least $540 in tickets from the Combined Veterans (accepting tickets dates back to at least 2005), got only a $1,000 fine and she keeps her job as Illinois State Fair manager.
    Between the state’s purchase of the fair in 1986 and 2011 the Combined Veterans of Illinois had the beer stand concessions at the Du Quoin fair, saying the profits were distributed to various veterans organizations.
    Yet, as the Combined Veterans were loading their equipment onto trucks to pull out of the Du Quoin fair’s grandstand, the newspaper asked director Brenda Jefferson for a list of charities that group gave money to. The newspaper has never gotten a list. The late Du Quoin Mayor, John Rednour Sr.--the former fair manager’s father--said he asked for the same information and never got it.
    Page 2 of 2 - The Combined Veterans were the beneficiary of a stipend from the Illinois Lottery at the Du Quoin State Fair in 2013 for assisting at the lottery tent.
    The Combined Veterans have since secured another four-year contract with the Springfield fair.
    The commission’s Rednour decision is part of an investigation that has been going on since last year. The newspaper understands the state also investigated a human resources complaint by former vendor space and contracts manager Lyndal Graff following an argument between Graf and Rednour.
    Graff retired shortly thereafter.
    Fair staff members were actually called to Springfield to testify in that investigation.
    Nothing has been released with respect to any findings but it is thought to be part and parcel of Rednour’s resignation as fair manager to assume the position as chairman of the board at his father’s bank.
    The Alongi’s say they were not responsible for filing the ethics complaint. Rednour was not immediately available for comment.
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