- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 31, 2017

SAN DIEGO (AP) - A former state gambling commissioner who retired in December after six years regulating California’s gaming industry opened a gaming consulting business four days after her term ended, according to a newspaper report.

The former commissioner, Tiffany Conklin, said she won’t have contact with her former colleagues at the California Gambling Control Commission, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported Monday (http://bit.ly/2jresDW ). State law bans such contact for three years after workers leave the agency.

Cheryl Schmit of the watchdog group Stand Up California said Conklin’s quick jump to the private sector has echoes of a 2014 scandal that roiled the commission. That’s when the ex-enforcement chief Robert Lytle was charged in an administrative accusation by the Attorney General’s Office with getting confidential information about investigations into his consulting clients from another agent still working for the state.

Lytle had retired from state work at the end of 2007. The accusation revealed he had negotiated a job with a casino before leaving his state job, and one day after he retired he opened his own consulting business advising gambling establishments.

Last year, he settled the matter by surrendering his state gambling license and paid a fine.

Schmit said that Conklin’s move to consulting does not look good, and “this type of activity will continue to foster the culture of corruption that occurred with Robert Lytle.”

Conklin said she was fully aware of the state law that prohibits her from communicating with commission staff or appearing before the commission for three years, and she will abide by it.

She also said she did not tell anyone of her plans before announcing on Dec. 8 she would not seek reappointment to a new term. That distinguishes her move from Lytle - who was accused of setting up a new job while he was still employed by the state, Conklin said.

“I have not entered into any contracts. I did not let anyone know of my plans,” she said. Her work will focus on “the legislative side of things,” and not with the commission or the Bureau of Gambling Control, the state enforcement arm for gambling regulations.

Conklin said she was aware her move could raise eyebrows. “I was definitely aware of the optics on this,” she told the newspaper.

But she said she had developed an expertise in gaming matters and can be of help to the industry - and abide by the no-contact restrictions.

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Information from: The San Diego Union-Tribune, http://www.utsandiego.com

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