Lot­tery sale quest a waste of money

The Colonial - - OPINION -

From the out­set, Gov. Tom Cor­bett’s pro­posed pri­va­ti­za­tion of the state lot­tery was ill-fated. And for good rea­son: It was a bad idea. It’s bad pub­lic pol­icy. It’s bad for state tax­pay­ers. It’s bad for the se­nior cit­i­zens who de­pend on lot­tery funds to pay for trans­porta­tion, meals, pre­scrip­tion drugs and prop­erty tax and rent re­bates.

But now we learn the gov­er­nor’s quixotic quest — guided by ide­ol­ogy more than prac­ti­cal­ity — hasn’t been bad for ev­ery­one.

Con­sul­tants have hit the jack­pot. And they didn’t even have to schlep them­selves down to the cor­ner Wawa to buy a scratch-off.

&RnVuOWDnWV — ODwyHUV, OREEyLVWV DnG RWKHU SLORW fiVK wKR feed off of the state gov­ern­ment — have charged the state more than $3.4 mil­lion for ser­vices that seem to con­sist of them telling the gov­er­nor what he wanted to hear.

If any of th­ese con­sul­tants were le­gal ad­vis­ers, well, maybe they should go back to ad­ver­tis­ing on bus benches. The gov­er­nor at­tempted to pri­va­tize the lot­tery with­out leg­isla­tive ap­proval, essen­tially try­ing to hand a $3 bil­lion-a-year op­er­a­tion to a Bri­tish com­pany, the lone bid­der. State At­tor­ney Gen­eral Kath­leen Kane wisely killed the deal, an ef­fort that ap­par­ently did not in­volve much heavy le­gal lift­ing. The deal seems dead, well al­most. 7KH ELG, IURP WKH BULWLVK ORWWHUy PDnDJHPHnW fiUP &DPHORW Global Ser­vices, ex­pired Oct. 29, but an agree­ment be­tween WKH &RUEHWW DGPLnLVWUDWLRn DnG WKH IRU-SUR­fiW &DPHORW wDV Dn­nounced that day ex­tend­ing the bid through Dec. 31. No mat­ter the out­come, the con­sul­tants will get paid. ,W VHHPV OLNH D wDVWH RI PRnHy WKDW FRuOG RWKHUwLVH EHnH­fiW se­nior cit­i­zens.

Au­di­tor Gen­eral Eugene DePasquale feels the same way. He has or­dered his staff to re­view the pay­ments made to con­sul­tants to make sure, in his words, “that we can ac­count for ev­ery sin­gle penny.”

In a news re­lease, DePasquale said, “Funds from the Penn­syl­va­nia Lot­tery are sup­posed to help older Penn­syl­va­ni­ans with pre­scrip­tions, trans­porta­tion, home-de­liv­ered meals and prop­erty tax and rent re­bates, not to fat­ten the cof­fers of law fiUPV DnG SULYDWH FRnVuOWDnWV RYHU D LRWWHUy SULYDWL]DWLRn SODn con­tract that may never see the light of day.”

Now, there are those who would frame this as a po­lit­i­cal ma­neu­ver. DePasquale is a Demo­crat, and Gov. Cor­bett, a Repub­li­can, is up for re-elec­tion next year.

And con­sid­er­ing that the gov­er­nor is about as pop­u­lar as, oh, Congress or head lice th­ese days, it might look like DePasquale is kick­ing the gov­er­nor while he’s down.

There might be an el­e­ment of truth to that. But the whole truth is that Mr. DePasquale is do­ing the job he was elected to do, keep­ing an eye on how the state spends its money. And in this case, it’s hard to think of a more ridicu­lous waste of money than hand­ing mil­lions over to con­sul­tants on a pro­posal that is go­ing nowhere.

And it gets worse. Mr. DePasquale said pay­ments to con­sul­tants could top $4.3 mil­lion. Money for noth­ing. Dig­i­tal First Me­dia

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