Former State Fair Director Says Governor Practiced Cronyism


Springfield - It's the heart of harvest season for most farmers, and while farmers are hard at work in the field, they're now left without a leader at the state's Department of Agriculture.

"We don't have someone that is a liaison to commodity groups and legislature," said Joe Pickrell.

Pickrell is a Sangamon County farmer and said that with former director Philip Nelson leading the charge farmers had someone they could trust.

"With Philip Nelson we had someone who was well known across the nation so he could work with other states as far as agricultural," said Pickrell.

Nelson's pick for state fair manager, Patrick Buchen, also resigned.

Buchen said that his job came with roadblocks within the governor's staff.

"They tried to micromanage us.  They tried to shove decisions down our throats that were not good for agriculture.  They were not good for the fair.  And we fought back, and we fought back hard and Philip helped me fight back," he said.

Buchen also claimed those decisions included possible unethical choices as well as practices of cronyism.

"They forced some decisions that I won't tell you they were shady, but they were absolutely on the line.  When I'm ordered to give away some press passes to people that don't deserve press passes.  Having family in Illinois before I got here I knew there was a lot of problems.  I knew that cronyism was a terrible issue.  I was also hopeful that this administration would solve some of those issues.  And near as I can tell they propagated it and they didn't solve any of it.  They forced us to do some things that were nothing but cronyism," he added.

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