We’ve got a good, old-fashioned scandal brewing about the lottery.
Scientific Games is one of the mega-gaming companies that run lotteries. It wants to run the North Carolina lottery and 1) it got language inserted into the Lottery Bill (by an amenable legislator ) apparently, to give it a ‘leg up’ over competitors; 2) it got its own man on the Lottery Commission that awards the contracts; and 3) did it all secretly.
In fact, according to the Raleigh News and Observer, Scientific Games even paid its ‘friend’ on the Lottery Commission, Kevin Geddings, $9,500 the day after he was appointed. And Mr. Geddings didn’t report that money – or another $15,000 he received from Scientific Games – on his ethics report.
Stacking the deck to win the lottery by getting your man on the Commission that awards the contracts has to rank right up there with the “Black Sox Scandal”– ‘fixing’ the 1919 World Series – as one of the most purely brazen maneuvers of all time.
One of the things Scientific Games paid Mr. Geddings $5,000 to do was coach Senator Tony Rand – the Democrat Majority Leader – for a debate on the lottery. When it comes to his role in all this, Senator Tony Rand, the Democrat Majority Leader has had an almost complete case of amnesia.
Senator Rand says he only ‘vaguely’ recalls ever meeting Mr. Geddings. He says his recollections of dealing with Geddings are ‘fuzzy.’ He says Geddings, lobbyist Meredith Norris and ‘maybe’ someone else dropped by his office before that debate – the one paid Geddings to coach Rand for – but it was no big deal. They just sat ‘around shooting the breeze.’ As for Geddings ‘coaching’ him, Rand added, “Oh, hell no, I didn’t need any coaching.” Rand also only ‘vaguely’ remembers having dinner with Geddings after the debate. And he says he didn’t know whom Geddings represented.
Think about that a minute. The Senate Majority Leader, the man who steered the lottery through the Senate, met with three lottery lobbyists and had no idea who they represented?
What’s more, the third man in that meeting with Geddings and Meredith Norris – the one Rand can’t remember his name – appears to be Scientific Games Vice President Alan Middleton, who wrote language that was inserted in the Lottery Bill with the intention of helping Scientific Games. Want to guess who the newspapers report may have put that language in the bill? Tony Rand. (Mr. Geddings also turns out to have been a political consultant to Lt. Gov. Beverly Purdue – who cast the deciding vote for the lottery in the Senate).
There’s one other puzzling question here. Where are House and Senate Republicans? They have been strangely silent. And it’s time they started speaking out. Republican legislators should do two things. First, they should call for a bi-partisan House-Senate Investigation. Second, they should demand Scientific Games be banned from bidding.
And if Democrats want to oppose either proposal, let them defend that in the next election.