One of the original commissioners to oversee the Texas lottery was called back to service Friday, this time to act as the temporary executive director of the troubled agency because officials have been unable to find someone to permanently fill the job, which has been open for six months.
Anthony Sadberry, a Houston lawyer who gave up his private practice two months ago to become an assistant Texas attorney general, will take over the day-to-day operation of the lottery on Tuesday. Unlike his past tenure with the commission, which ran from November 1993 to March 2001, Sadberry will be paid for his services, earning an annual salary of about $115,000.
"I have a strong feeling for this agency and its important role for the state," said Sadberry, 56. "I look forward to working with the leadership here and will continue to work to the excellence the agency has experienced."
Gary Grief, the lottery's acting executive director since Reagan Greer resigned under criticism in July, will resume his longtime role as deputy director. Under state law, Grief could not serve as acting director any longer than six months because he already had a full-time job with the lottery. Because Sadberry is not setting aside other lottery duties to take on his new job, he can serve as long as the lottery's oversight board wants him in the post.
Sadberry was part of a blue-ribbon panel selected by Lottery Commission Chairman C. Thomas Clowe to help screen applicants to replace Greer. The panel recommended that commissioners consider at least eight candidates for the post, but none was offered the job.
Clowe described one candidate, former Rep. Talmadge Heflin, as "very promising," but he withdrew his application and decided to run for the Houston seat he narrowly lost to Democrat Hubert Vo in 2004.
Clowe said he then asked Sadberry to consider accepting the job, at least temporarily, while the search for a permanent director continued. Sadberry and Clowe served together on the commission for three years.
"It was my pleasure to serve with him on this commission," Clowe said. "He brings an extensive history and knowledge with him in regards to this agency, and we look forward to working closely with him."
Greer left after both commissioners publicly scolded him for advertising an $8 million jackpot knowing that ticket sales could not have supported more than $6.5 million. The two commissioners then appointed a panel to search nationwide for a new director. Of the estimated 150 applications, only one candidate had experience with a state-run lottery. That applicant withdrew.
Clowe has said that he approached Heflin about interviewing for the job because Heflin's two years as chairman of the budget-writing House Appropriations Committee during his 22 years in the Legislature would have given him insight into the lottery's workings. But the day before Clowe and fellow Commissioner Jim Cox were to consider his application, Heflin bowed out.
Two of the three lottery directors who preceded Greer were fired after losing the confidence of the oversight commission. The third resigned under criticism.