Jeff Lamberti

Former State Senator Jeff Lamberti of Ankeny was elected the chair of the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission today on a unanimous vote two weeks after pleading guilty to drunk driving.

Governor Terry Branstad came out in support of Lamberti immediately after his arrest, saying Lamberti has made a mistake and it would be up to the commission members to decide whether he should lead the commission.

Lamberti said at the commission’s June meeting that he wanted no special treatment and would plead guilty to the charge. He was asked today about why commission members decided to name him chair.

“Well, you know I think you’d have to ask them individually, I think they examined the situation and how I reacted to it and my service here on the commission and I guess felt comfortable moving forward,” Lamberti said. “I’m glad they have confidence in me, and intention as I said before is to put it behind me and move forward.”

Lamberti said there’s a single goal for the commission regardless of who is the leader. “The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission really has one overriding concern and that’s to make sure that gaming in Iowa, if you’re going to have it, is gonna be clean, above board with a lot of integrity, and that’s what we’ll be focused on,” according to Lamberti.

“We have challenges with facilities in Sioux City and things like that, but we are always going to try and maintain integrity in the industry and that’s what we intend to do moving forward, that’s the most important thing I think Iowans expect.” The 49-year-old Lamberti is a lawyer and president of the Iowa Barnstormers Arena Football League team.

He was given a one-year suspended sentenced and ordered to undergo a program for drunk drivers and pay a $1,250 fine. Commissioner Greg Seyfer of Cedar Rapids was elected vice chair.