Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said Wednesday she wants to know more about a $19 million advertising contract for the state lottery that was the subject of a critical audit earlier this month.
Her questions center on the results of a report by Auditor General William Holland that shows R.J. Dale Advertising & Public Relations had received $7.1 million to promote the state lottery, but could demonstrate only $2 million worth of work.
"We have reached out to the auditor general and we will be talking with him about the lottery audit," Madigan told reporters at the Statehouse.
Madigan stopped short of announcing a full-fledged investigation into the deal the public relations firm struck with Gov. Blagojevich's administration, but she said she wants to discuss the company's pact with the Auditor General Holland.
''We have reached out to the auditor general and will be talking to him about the lottery audit,'' Madigan told reporters.
Holland's office said it is cooperating with the attorney general.
If her inquiry turns into a full-fledged investigation, it would mark the fifth time in the past 10 months that state, county or federal investigators have focused their efforts on activities associated with the governor's administration.
This month, Holland faulted the state lottery for not keeping adequate tabs on the Chicago firm and questioned $2.1 million in payments for TV and radio ads that could not be documented.
Geraldine Conrad, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Revenue, said internal auditors are continuing to trace the expenditures, but she said she is confident there was no money misappropriated and there is nothing to be investigated.
Robert J. Dale, president of R.J. Dale and a $1,000 donor to the governor, repeated those assertions but said the state owes his firm $150,000. He would not elaborate on what exactly he was referring to.
Dale insisted there were no discrepancies in the work his firm performed and held off reading anything ominous into Madigan's public expression of interest in his company's state contract.
''I don't want to speak specifically to what the attorney general said because I didn't hear her say it. I can say I've met her, and she seems like a very competent attorney and a competent person,'' Dale said.
The administration hired R.J. Dale in September 2003 to promote the lottery in the African-American market. Its contract with the state broadened last year when the state added general marketing duties to the firm's responsibilities.
Other current probes of activities associated with the governor's administration:
• An investigation by a Cook County grand jury into allegations that state jobs and appointments have been traded for campaign contributions.
• An investigation by Madigan's office into allegations that a state contractor had improperly billed taxpayers for items such as candy, liquor and parking at Chicago Bulls basketball game.
• A federal investigation into corruption at the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board, including an indictment against a Blagojevich appointee to the board.
• An apparent investigation by federal authorities into the bidding process the state used in awarding a controversial health insurance contract.
As for the lottery contract, Blagojevich initially defended the firm. Later, however, he said the company had better prove it placed $5.1 million in ads promoting the lottery or its $19 million contract with the state could be in jeopardy.
An internal review of the R.J. Dale contract has been under way for several months and a spokeswoman for the Illinois Department of Revenue, which oversees the lottery, said preliminary results show that billings in the prior two quarters match up with actual advertisements.
Revenue spokeswoman Geraldine Conrad said the agency "has no problem" with Madigan and Holland discussing the contract.
"The Department of Revenue is fine with that," Conrad said.
Robert Dale, owner of the Chicago-based advertising company, said he had no reaction to Madigan's comments.
"I really don't have anything to say about that," said Dale.