Illinois marijuana retail license rollout hits another bump – Crain’s Chicago Business

In an interview, Degnen confirmed she has an ownership stake in and has been paid at least $5,000 by Highland Park-based Americanna Dream. As first reported by the Sun-Times, Degnen helped the firm submit 36 perfect applications for licenses around the state, beating out hundreds of others whose applications the state found imperfect.

The flap over who was found perfect, and why more minority-owned companies weren’t, is at least part of the reason Gov. J.B. Pritzker has indefinitely delayed a lottery to distribute 21 available licenses among the 75 perfect applicants.

Though she left the state job before Pritzker took office, Degnen has close ties to one of Pritzker’s top aides, Deputy Gov. Dan Hynes.

“He’s my neighbor,” Degnen told me in a phone interview. “He was helpful to me two years ago (in the campaign), absolutely.”

But Degnen, who says she “looked at and reviewed and helped write” Americanna’s application, denied that she contacted Hynes or anyone else in the Pritzker administration.

A spokeswoman for the governor also denied Degnen and Hynes have talked about the retail licenses. But the spokeswoman didn’t answer whether Degnen has been in communication with others in the administration, or whether the governor has a comment on the impression that Degnen may be cashing in on her former state government contacts.

In the interview, Degnen strongly denied that she pulled any strings. “I was not selling myself out,” she said. “I helped one business, with one application.”

Degnen noted that, during her time with the state, she worked on medical marijuana, not recreational cannabis issues. She also said Americanna is mostly owned by “friends,” members of a racial minority, but said she was not free to disclose their identity.

Degnen said her ownership share in Americanna will be disclosed if and when it gets licenses, but under a nondisclosure agreement cannot be made public now.

The $5,000 figure comes from Degnen’s statement of economic interest filed with the Cook County clerk’s office. A question on the form asks respondents to “list the nature of (any) professional services rendered” for which the person was paid $5,000 or more. Degnen answered “LLC,” short for limited liability company, but did not name the company or the field in which it works.

Degnen told me the question online has only a pull-down menu and she was technically unable to give a fuller reply.

Asked why her company got perfect scores if she only gave it a little advice on the side, Degnen replied: “I’m an engineer. I’m very detail oriented.” Degnen said some other applicants may have forgotten to fully answer all of the detailed questions on the form.

The man Degnen unseated as commissioner in the Northwest Side district, John Fritchey, charged in an email, “After basing her entire campaign on a repeated promise to be a full-time commissioner, less than six months after being sworn in, Bridget Degnen was trading on her insider status in an attempt to make millions and further enrich herself by gaming the very program she had been responsible for enforcing.”

Degnen, who in the campaign sharply criticized Fritchey for part-time lobbying, replied that helping write an application hardly constituted a second job.


via “Illinois Politics” – Google News

October 15, 2020 at 07:36PM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s