In California, the decision by the former head of the state’s gambling regulator to open an independent consulting business only four days after her term ended has reportedly sparked criticism from those pointing to the scandal that surrounded Robert Lytle in 2014.
According to a report from The San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper, Tiffany Conklin had served as a commissioner with the California Gambling Control Commission for six years until stepping down in December to establish Sacramento-based California Gaming Advisors.
Although Conklin reportedly stated that she will not have any contact with her former colleagues for three years, which is the minimum period mandated by local law, Cheryl Schmit from gambling watchdog Stand Up California declared that the move has echoes of the case of past state gambling enforcement chief Lytle after he was charged with violating this quarantine period and passing on confidential investigative information.
Schmit told the newspaper that Conklin’s move to consulting does not look good and that “this type of activity will continue to foster the culture of corruption that occurred with Robert Lytle”.
Lytle, who had served as the Director of California’s Division Of Gambling Control from 2003 to 2007, eventually agreed a settlement that saw him relinquish his state gambling license and pay a fine of $75,000 while agreeing to make “limited admissions” about his conduct and who he had dealt with at the enforcement bureau. The affair also led to the resignations of the Chairman and Executive Director for the California Gambling Control Commission along with calls to pass legislation that would make it harder for such situations to re-occur.
However, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that Conklin had not told anyone about her plans prior to announcing on December 8 that she would not be seeking a new term and that this distinguished her move from that of Lytle, who was accused of setting up his consulting business while still employed by the state.
“I have not entered into any contracts,” Conklin told the newspaper while revealing that she intends to focus on “the legislative side of things” and not with the California Gambling Control Commission or Division Of Gambling Control. “I did not let anyone know of my plans.”
Conklin reportedly moreover declared that she is aware that her move could raise eyebrows but that she has an expertise in California gaming matters and now wants to be of help to the industry.
“I was definitely aware of the optics on this,” Conklin told the newspaper, which explained that the three-year embargo prohibits former California Gambling Control Commission and Division Of Gambling Control employees from communicating with current staff in order “to influence an administrative action or any action or proceeding involving a license or approval”.
Jim Evans, Chairman of the California Gambling Control Commission, reportedly told The San Diego Union-Tribune that the law on former employees having contact with the regulator’s staff “is clear” and that he expects Conklin to “to follow the letter and spirit of the law”.