By Melissa Daniels | PA Independent
HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania is poised to land a new Pennsylvania Lottery partner in Camelot Global Services, and one state lawmaker wants to make sure that the state’s gambling concession isn’t sullied by the stink of money.
State Rep. Brandon Neuman, D-Washington, announced he’ll introduce legislation to ban any company running the Pennsylvania Lottery from making campaign contributions to elected officials and political candidates.
The lottery funds state services for senior citizens.
“This is one thing, I believe, that will help protect the integrity of the legislature,” he said. “If we are going to make decisions on or about the lottery, they are going to be in the best interests of the senior citizens and the programs.”
Neuman said he would prefer to see the state retain control of the lottery. But if the concession is outsourced, Newman wants limits on the private manager’s political activity. He envisions the ban applying to anyone involved in making profits from the lottery’s operation.
“We don’t even want the perception of doing things because of campaign donations,” he said.
Gov. Tom Corbett and other state officials who forged the deal said the state needs to maximize lottery profits because elderly Pennsylvanians are an ever-growing demographic. Camelot, which operates the National Lottery in the United Kingdom, plans to create additional revenue by boosting the number of players through new marketing, retail expansion and new games like Keno.
Before enactment, the contract requires approval from Attorney General Kathleen Kane, a typical formal review for all state contracts. Ranking Democrats have asked Kane to reject the contract because it was not run through the state legislature. Some, including Neuman, believe the legislature have to vote on expanding gaming to include Keno.
Corporations in Pennsylvania cannot directly donate to campaigns. But there are no limits on individual spending. Neuman said there is nothing in the state’s contract with Camelot that prevents the company’s executives from making individual campaign donations.
In an email, Dave LaTorre, the Pennsylvania-based spokesman for Camelot, said, “Camelot has not given any political contributions in the past and would abide by all commonwealth laws moving forward.”
Steve Miskin, spokesman for House Majority Leader Rep. Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, said he had not heard about Neuman’s proposal, but Democrats are continuing to treat the lottery agreement as “a political football.”
He said further review of the lottery deal will happen at scheduled meetings of the House Aging and Older Services Committee on Tuesday and Wednesday.
“We’re going to continue to monitor the lottery and this agreement to make sure the system is operated in a manner consistent with state law,” he said.
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