Ralph Reed, a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, on Thursday endorsed Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue's call for a state constitutional amendment that would prevent lottery money from being used for anything except HOPE college scholarships, pre-kindergarten classes and building up financial reserves.
"Competition to the lottery from surrounding states is increasing, revenues will level off over the long haul, and we need this measure to ensure long-term fiscal solvency," Reed said.
Reed's only rival in the 2006 GOP primary race, state Sen. Casey Cagle of Gainesville, pointed out that, as a political consultant, Reed led the successful effort to kill a 1999 lottery referendum in Alabama that was modeled on Georgia's program.
At the time, Reed was working on behalf of a group of religious conservatives, and as a subcontractor to Jack Abramoff, a Washington lobbyist with casino clients who is now under federal investigation.
"My opponent worked to oppose the very same type of program in Alabama on behalf of casino clients," Cagle said. "We cannot afford to play political games with this highly important, even vital, program. I hope my opponent will be more consistent with his new position than his old one."
Cagle, too, said he supports Perdue's amendment.
Reed denied any inconsistency and said he supports the Georgia lottery. "The lottery in Alabama was a badly flawed program that lacked legislative oversight," he said in an interview. As proposed, Reed said, the Alabama system would have allowed no-bid contracts and was "an invitation to cronyism and corruption."
One of those who campaigned in favor of the Alabama lottery was former Gov. Zell Miller, the father of Georgia's lottery. Miller, a Democrat, endorsed Reed's candidacy last month.
Reed has come under criticism for activities in Alabama. Some of the funding he arranged for the anti-lottery campaign originated with the Mississippi band of Choctaw Indians, a tribe with casino interests. Leaders of the anti-lottery campaign had pledged to accept no gambling money, whether directly or indirectly. Reed has said the money came from the tribe's nongambling enterprises.