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Illinois Gov. won't reveal data on lottery sale plan

May 31, 2006, 7:36 am

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Illinois Lottery

The Blagojevich administration said Tuesday it won't release a consultant's work on how much money the state could make by selling or leasing the Illinois state lottery. The administration compared such a move to sharing playbooks with rival sports teams.

Republicans have called for public disclosure.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich last week proposed privatizing the lottery to provide a bonanza of cash for education over the next few years. He said New York-based consultant Goldman Sachs estimated the sale would bring in $10 billion.

But the administration has not provided anything to back up that estimate or explain how it was reached. Blagojevich's aides said they are sticking by that policy because companies interested in running the lottery could use such details to craft lower bids.

"Lovie Smith wouldn't give his playbook to the Packers, and Bruce Weber wouldn't give his playbook to Michigan State," Blagojevich budget spokeswoman Becky Carroll said, referring to the coaches of the Chicago Bears and the University of Illinois men's basketball team.

Republican officials aren't buying that explanation.

"Since taxpayers have been asked to pay for the governor to promote this plan, the Blagojevich administration should release the report to the public immediately," Joe Birkett, the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, said in a statement Tuesday.

The Republican leaders in the House and Senate sent letters to Blagojevich on Friday asking for information on the lottery proposal.

Blagojevich introduced it after state Sen. James Meeks, an independent, threatened to run for governor if the incumbent Democrat did not come up with a long-term education plan.

The administration claims the lottery proposal is not part of a political deal, but just days before it was announced, the governor's re-election campaign polled voters about Meeks' potential run.

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