Roby Brock at Talk Business has glommed onto and shares details from House Speaker Robbie Wills’ memo on what he’s learned so far about “best practices” for operating a state lottery. Wills anticipates lottery sales could begin in 2010.
I think a flexible, independent publicly owned entity is the way to go. I’m a little disappointed, however, that Wills’ list of seven keystone practices doesn’t include a full commitment to complete and total transparency in every aspect of the operation. The public must be able, at a moment’s notice, to review every expenditure and every recipient of every dollar distributed.
And, hey, here’s another idea. I know it’s too much to expect the new House speaker to push for a meaningful ethics code for legislators. The loss of steak dinners and drinks means too much to too many lawmakers. But he could include a strict ethical code for all employees and supervisors of the lottery corporation and all those who do business with the lottery corporation. Any expenditure for travel, dining, familiarization tours, etc., should be publicly reported. (Including those spent on legislators.)
The stakes are high. The big gambling interests that will be moving in to make a kill off Arkansas business should be required to disclose their expenditures and recipients. If we allow lottery employees to receive freebies (which we shouldn’t), they should be required to report, too. This both-sides-now reporting is a guard against omissions by one party or the other, a fatal flaw in a recent half-hearted and unsuccessful effort to put a touch of backbone in House ethics rules.
You must begin with the assumptions that special interests know the benefits of spreading money around and that human flesh is weak. Eternal vigilance and sunshine are the only limits on these verities.