Capitol Alert

The latest on California politics and government

Gov. Jerry Brown has named a former business consultant as director of the California Lottery.

Robert O'Neill, a 60-year-old former executive with the global audit, tax and advisory firm KPMG LLP will oversee an agency with about $3 billion in game sales each year. It provides about $1 billion to schools.

Brown Press Secretary Gil Duran put the news on Twitter Tuesday night after The Bee inquired about the Democratic governor's plans to replace interim director Linh Nguyen and all three positions on the lottery commission.

Brown named Nguyen as interim director upon taking office a year ago. The governor must now find appointees for the commission within a few weeks.

Two of the agency's three commissioners termed out in early November but continue to serve. The third commissioner stepped down this month.

State law puts deadlines on how long the commission positions can remain vacant. The governor is aware of the time limits and is carefully considering candidates, said Brown spokesman Evan Westrup.

"It's a case of the governor taking a look at each department and agency and focusing on getting the right person," Westrup said.

Brown sent dismissal notices "earlier this month" to Nguyen and to Mike Brennan, deputy director of sales and marketing, Westrup said, telling them that their last day on the job would be Dec. 31.

A year ago, Brown dismissed Lottery Director Joan Borucki and put Nguyen in charge.

Now Brown is turning to O'Neill, who is registered decline-to-state, to fill the $147,900-per-year job. O'Neill has been a principal at KPMG for eight years. His new lottery job requires Senate confirmation.

Lottery officials said that the vacancies haven't affected operations, although they cancelled a Dec. 8 meeting.

"We didn't really have any pressing issues," said Russ Lopez, the lottery's deputy director of corporate communications. "We didn't really need the meeting."

The commission terms expired Nov. 6 for John Mass and John Menchaca, who were appointed by former GOP Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. They continue to serve, Westrup said, and the law allows Brown up to 60 days to appoint their replacements.

Schwarzenegger also appointed the third commissioner, Alex E. Fortunati, but he hadn't yet been confirmed by the Senate. He resigned on Dec. 8.

"It is my desire and intention to seek re-appointment to this Commission under Governor Brown," Fortunati wrote in his resignation letter, "and since there are technicalities of the confirmation procedures I am trying to navigate the process."

The law allows Brown 30 days to fill Fortunati's vacancy.

There's no penalty if the governor misses those deadlines, said Alicia Trost, spokeswoman for Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg. The Sacramento Democrat chairs the Senate Rules Committee that considers gubernatorial appointments.

The lottery's eight games, which include scratch-off tickets and number drawings, sold $3.04 billion in fiscal 2009-10, up from $2.95 billion the year before.

Voters approved the lottery in 1984 to fund education. After expenses and prize payouts last year, the lottery sent $1.09 billion to schools.

Despite those numbers, critics say that the lottery could do far better. A British firm has lobbied Brown to privatize management of the games' sales and marketing, but there's been no sign that the state is ready to accept the idea.


More Capitol Alert

Capitol Alert on Twitter

Popular Categories

Now on


November 2013

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
          1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30

Monthly Archives

Latest California Clips