Records raise questions about new fairgrounds foundation

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — When he announced the creation of a nonprofit foundation designed to help upkeep the state’s fairgrounds, Gov. Bruce Rauner indicated last month it would be “all private money, all private management, all private control.” But records obtained by Lee Enterprises show that the administration and the Illinois Department of Agriculture played a large role in its formation.

The Southern Illinoisan reports that emails and other records show that state officials have been meeting since early June to discuss the foundation and played a role in assembling the organization’s board. State officials also put together a document detailing how the foundation would function and set the agenda for a conference call with board members days before the effort was publicly announced.

Grant Hammer, chief of staff for the Department of Agriculture said he couldn’t comment because he is not authorized to speak to the media. Department spokeswoman Rebecca Clark didn’t respond immediately to a request for comment.