Saturday, January 26, 2008

Illinois' New Fundraising Effort Pays Off

An Illinois judge was a big winner when it came to reselling tickets to Rose Bowl, using the special access to tickets he has as a major booster to resell at least 60 tickets at a substantial profit, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Moultrie County Circuit Judge Dan L. Flannell is also president of the Sullivan Illini Quarterback Club, which donated $22,000 to the Illinois athletic department last year.

There is a circular nature to the arrangement: The more the club profits from its ticket sales, the larger its donations, which in turn gives it greater access to more and better tickets. By spreading its donations among several accounts, the club was able to buy 26 Rose Bowl tickets when the individual account maximum was eight.

"Is this the way the University of Illinois wishes to raise money? That just blows me away," said Tony Lawson, a longtime fan who lives in Phoenix. "[The club] has found a way to manipulate and circumvent the system to their benefit."

Flannell did much of his dealing online. According to eBay listings, he sold tickets to the game for as much as $340 more than their $135 face value.

Although Flannell denies any wrongdoing, he could be in violation of an Illinois Supreme Court rule that says judges should not allow their names to be used to solicit funds for a civic or charitable organization, according to Steven Lubet, a legal ethics professor at Northwestern.

"Being president of the club that's only function is raising money would very likely involve soliciting," Lubet said.

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