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Ex-Quinn top aide turns to lobbying

Published: Monday, May 19, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT

SPRINGFIELD (AP) – A former top aide to Gov. Pat Quinn is now working as a lobbyist for a group representing casino owners and a company hoping to get into the medical marijuana business, raising eyebrows among some who want to strengthen the state’s so-called revolving door ban.

Jack Lavin, who left his job as Quinn’s chief of staff last September, started his own lobbying business in February and has landed several contracts in recent weeks, Lee Enterprises reported Sunday.

Records show Lavin represents the Illinois Casino Gaming Association, which has been in the middle of talks regarding an expansion of gambling in Illinois. He’s also signed on with Effingham-based Healthcentral LLC, a company formed to compete for a license to grow marijuana after lawmakers approved a 4-year medical marijuana pilot program.

Under the state’s revolving door law, certain state employees or former state workers cannot accept employment or compensation from a non-state employer if the worker, in the past year, made regulatory or licensing decisions or awarded contracts affecting the new employer.

Among Quinn’s decisions during the 3 years that Lavin served as chief of staff were whether to expand gambling and legalize medical marijuana.

Lavin did not return a phone call to Lee Enterprises, but Quinn spokeswoman Brooke Anderson said Lavin consulted with an attorney and state ethics officer before he left last year.

Republican state Sen. Darin LaHood of Dunlap, who has called for tougher revolving door laws, says Lavin’s move merits closer scrutiny.

The former director of the Illinois Department of Health and Family Services, Barry Maram, was fined $100,000 for violating the state’s revolving door law. He accepted a job with a Chicago law firm hired to defend the state in a lawsuit over the expansion of a state children’s health insurance program shortly after leaving state government in April 2010.

Because of the firm’s relationship with the state agency, the executive inspector general ruled Maram was barred from working there for 1 year.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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