* Mitchell Armentrout at the Sun-Times…
Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Thursday forced out three members of the Illinois Racing Board for allegedly making illegal political contributions, leaving the state’s horse racing regulatory agency in flux as the struggling industry jockeys to get back on track with help from a massive gambling expansion.
The abrupt resignations of Racing Board Chairman Jeffrey Brincat and commissioners Edgar Ramirez and Gregory Sronce were the result of apparent violations of a new provision included in the gaming package signed into law by Pritzker last summer, which bars board members from giving money to politicians.
“The Illinois Horse Racing Act states that ‘[n]o member of the Board … shall engage in any political activity,’” Pritzker spokeswoman Jordan Abudayyeh said in an email. “Three sitting members of the Illinois Racing Board made political contributions. As a result, they were asked to resign and each has submitted a letter of resignation.”
Brincat, who was appointed by Republican former Gov. Bruce Rauner in 2015, gave $1,000 to the campaign of state Sen. Tony Munoz, D-Chicago, on Dec. 15, according to Illinois State Board of Elections records, almost six months after Pritzker signed the gaming expansion June 28. […]
Three seats were already vacant on the 11-person racing board before the abrupt resignations of Brincat, Sronce and Ramirez. That leaves just five members, which is short of the quorum required “for the transaction of any business” under state law.
*** UPDATE *** \Bernie…
Sronce, 36, said Friday he agreed to resign from the panel that oversees horse racing in the state but was not aware of the law signed last summer until after he had written a $1,000 check to the Sangamon County Republican Foundation.
Gov. JB Pritzker signed the new gaming law on June 28. Board general counsel John Gay sent the board members a memo on July 15 saying in part “board members and staff are barred from participating in any political activity in support of or in connection with any campaign for state or local elective office or any political organization.”
Sronce produced a copy of a check he wrote July 2 to the GOP foundation. He also noted the group supports local candidates for offices including park and school board.
“It’s a very strange prohibition that as a commissioner you can’t donate to a local park board or school board candidate,” Sronce said, while gaming interests can donate to legislators who make laws concerning the industry and “can put them on the payroll.” He called the situation “ironic.”