Casino Watch Focus has reported on some questionable actions from the Florida Lottery, both in terms of policy, through online lottery expansion, and through promotional choices, when the Florida Lottery blurred the NCAA gambling lines by using college football teams in their gambling promotions. Now its being reported that the lottery secretary Connie Barnes has been caught up in a financial scandal, abusing state money by using it for lavish vacations of other personal items. An editorial by myPalmBeachPost online explains:
If only we could all hit the Florida Lottery as well as the woman who’s been running it. Cynthia O’Connell acted as though being Lottery Secretary was a kind of jackpot. Last year, she took nine weeks of vacation from her $141,000 job. She also charged nearly $30,000 in subsidized travel and ran up late fees on her Lottery credit card at department stores, grocery stores, hair salons, car washes and the dentist.
She announced her resignation on Aug. 28, just before the Lottery released her credit card records to the Associated Press. Her tenure will be remembered here chiefly for the scandal exposed by The Palm Beach Post in which retailers were illegally cashing in winning tickets to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars — and Lottery officials basically shrugged.
A far more complete investigation will be conducted by the Senate. In the meantime, in what appears to be a precautionary move, the company credit cards of other employees are being restricted. The Blaze reports:
Lottery officials also announced that they were suspending the use of American Express corporate cards that had been issued to 70 department employees because of the inquiry by The Associated Press.
State Sen. Rob Bradley, the chairman of the Senate panel that oversees gambling in the state, said the circumstances surrounding O’Connell’s resignation will be scrutinized by his committee this fall.
“Obviously the Lottery has performed very well from a revenue standpoint, but we cannot lose sight that the Department of Lottery is a state agency like other state agencies,” said Bradley, a Republican from Fleming Island. “We have a high standard in the Senate for all state agencies, particularly when it comes to being focused on preventing waste and making sure operational expenses are kept in line.”
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