An investigation into the director of the Nebraska Lottery focuses on a trip he and his wife took to Greece that was paid for by a lottery vendor, the attorney general said Thursday.
The trip was legitimate business for lottery chief James Quinn, but state law bars public officials from accepting gifts of travel or lodging for their spouse while on state business, Attorney General Jon Bruning said. Quinn recently reimbursed the vendor for his wife's expenses, officials said.
The $5,000 trip was paid for by Intralot USA of Duluth, Ga., which was recently tapped to be the lottery's online game vendor.
Quinn, who has been director of the lottery since its creation in 1993, was suspended earlier this week. He referred a request for comment to his lawyer, Bernard Glaser Jr.
Glaser said late Wednesday that "Jim and his wife are going to cooperate completely" in the investigation by the state attorney general and the state Department of Revenue.
Quinn and his wife, Kathy, went to Greece in September after Intralot was awarded the new contract with the Nebraska Lottery. The trip was arranged for Quinn to inspect Intralot's operations. Intralot is owned by a Greek businessman.
State law prohibits elected officials and employees of the executive branch from accepting more than $50 a month in gifts from lobbyists or the groups they represent.
Records reviewed by The Associated Press showed that Quinn has never reported receiving any gifts since becoming a Revenue Department employee in 1980.
Tax Commissioner Mary Jane Egr said Quinn told her Monday he recently repaid the money to the company, which was confirmed through an Intralot representative.
Egr said she did not know why Quinn suddenly repaid the money months after taking the trip.
"I'm not going to comment on that because that would be speculating," she said.
Intralot's contract with the Nebraska Lottery begins July 1, and runs through 2011. Egr has said the investigation has nothing to do with lottery operations.