Weighing his words carefully when asked if he was the fall guy in the growing scandal over inflated Texas Lotto jackpots, Lee Deviney said only that his dismissal last month from the Texas Lottery Commission came with no prior warning.
"In any job you have good days and bad, but the majority of time I felt (my bosses) were happy with me," Deviney said by telephone Thursday while vacationing with his family in Colorado.
Happy enough, he said, that he was awarded a 4 percent raise last October and a positive evaluation.
Citing privacy issues, a spokesman for the Lottery Commission would not confirm Deviney's claims. But under sharp questioning Wednesday from a panel of lawmakers, top agency officials acknowledged that Deviney was fired without having received any written notice of substandard performance.
Already under intense fire for inflating advertised Lotto jackpots, agency officials are now under pressure to explain the decision to terminate their chief financial officer, a 17-year veteran of state government, 11 days after he alerted superiors of the problem in a June 3 e-mail and recommended they consider changing procedures.
Testifying Wednesday before the House Licensing and Procedures Committee, the commission's administrator, Mike Fernandez, called the timing of Deviney's dismissal "horrendous" and insisted it was based on poor performance and had nothing to do with the scandal enveloping the agency.
Four times since October, the commission advertised Lotto jackpots that were in some cases more than $1 million than what the agency could have paid winners. There were no winners.
Last week, Reagan Greer, the agency's executive director and a former Bexar County district clerk, acknowledged approving inflated jackpots to spark enthusiasm for a game that was waning in popularity.
He said later that he "made a mistake" by over-relying on staff recommendations and he promised to rectify the problem by ensuring better oversight and basing estimates on more conservative figures.
A June 8 shortfall prompted the agency to freeze the advertised June 11 jackpot, the first time the agency had ever done so.
The agency's three commissioners have not said whether they will seek Greer's resignation.
Their next meeting is scheduled for July 11.
Deviney, for his part, said that since he "couldn't get inside his bosses' heads," he couldn't say for sure that he was made a scapegoat.
And he certainly isn't looking to sue. Still surprised over his firing, he said he only hoped to get his reputation back and find another job.