A special audit of the Illinois Lottery's chief ad agency found the company did not keep adequate records to answer key questions about millions of dollars in payments from the state.
However, Gov. Rod Blagojevich's administration said Thursday that the special $60,000 audit answered enough of those questions to vindicate the state's support of R.J. Dale Advertising & Public Relations.
The forensic audit, conducted by Clifton Gunderson LLP of Oak Brook, concluded that there was no "evidence of misuse or waste of the Department of Revenue's funds regarding media purchasing" by R.J. Dale related to lottery advertising.
But that conclusion was based on a much more limited review of financial records than the auditors had originally envisioned.
Other findings by the auditors involving R.J. Dale's lack of financial records appear to run counter to provisions contained in the firm's contract with the lottery as well as provisions of the state's purchasing laws.
R.J. Dale officials were unavailable for comment.
The special audit was ordered in January after the state's inspector general raised questions about the relationship between the lottery and R.J. Dale, which in January 2004 became the lottery's interim chief ad agency. Later in the year, R.J. Dale was selected from more than a dozen firms to become the first African-American owned agency to head up lottery advertising.
Last month, a review by the auditor general found that R.J. Dale lacked documentation to back up more than $2 million in billings it had submitted to the lottery. Shortly after that audit, Atty. Gen. Lisa Madigan announced she was investigating.
The report released Thursday by the special team of auditors covered a period from Sept. 1, 2003, to Nov. 30, 2004. Despite getting about 10,000 pages of documents from R.J. Dale, the auditors said, they could not reconcile invoices with payments to vendors.
In addition, R.J. Dale failed to provide audited financial statements, and auditors were unable to obtain canceled checks and bank data, the report said.
"Due to the insufficient reliable documentation and reconciliations of R.J. Dale's records, we have not been able to complete the objectives of this engagement," the auditors said.
Instead, auditors focused on a firm through which R.J. Dale purchased its media advertising and reviewed some of the invoice records of Kelly, Scott & Madison.
"Based on our analysis of these limited documents, we did not find evidence of misuse or waste of the Department of Revenue funds regarding the media purchasing," auditors said.
Department of Revenue auditors reached the same conclusion after examining a sampling of documents.
"R.J. Dale will continue to be the agency of record for the Illinois Lottery. No improprieties have been found. Its ads are running, and the campaign is hugely successful, generating millions of dollars for the lottery and garnering national awards for its creative work," said Cheryle Jackson, a spokeswoman for Blagojevich.