Lottery Secretary’s Success Dwarfed by Some Work Practices

31 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Ex-Lottery secretary’s success overshadowed by work ethic.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Cynthia O’Connell got accolades for a rise in ticket sales during her four-and-a-half years as the head of the Florida Lottery, but her demise came swiftly once questions mounted about her spending and work habits.

O’Connell’s resignation via a letter dated Friday came as she also faced internal questions about her use of her state credit card for personal items, although those issues were resolved. Those records show that O’Connell used her corporate American Express card for a wide array of personal expenses at department stores, grocery stores, hair salons as well as car washes, a trip to the dentist, and visits to Krispy Kreme. Connie Barnes, a Lottery spokeswoman, said in a statement that “effective immediately” the department was cutting off the use of corporate cards by approximately 70 Lottery employees who had been issued them. O’Connell’s decision to resign also came days after Politico Florida reported that she had taken almost nine weeks of vacation last year and racked up nearly $30,000 in travel bills in 2014. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, also a member of the committee, said he thought that O’Connell was one of several Scott agency heads who could face difficulty being confirmed in the 2016 session.

O’Connell’s departure comes as the department is in the middle of awarding two substantial contracts, including one with the company that provides online ticket sales. Some of the state’s most well-known lobbying firms- including one run by a major Republican fundraiser- are representing companies vying for the contract.

The state’s 10-year $333 million contract with GTECH to operate the machines that sell Powerball and other similar games was scheduled to expire in September.

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