Legislation designed to increase accountability at the Minnesota Lottery moved forward Wednesday, while fallout from the lottery's troubles continued.
A Senate committee passed a bill that would have the state lottery director serve at the pleasure of the governor, which means he or she can be removed for no reason. Current law requires the governor to show misconduct before firing the director.
Sen. Ann Rest, DFL-New Hope, introduced the bill this year after reports the lottery director may have abused his independence. Her bill also sets up a task force to look at the organization of the lottery.
Former lottery director George Andersen killed himself Jan. 27 after meeting with the state legislative auditor about an upcoming audit that Rest had requested.
The audit, released Feb. 19, found that the lottery spent substantially more money than similar lotteries in other states, was subject to less oversight than other state agencies and had too cozy a relationship with a company founded by the former lottery director's friend.
In other news, the Minnesota Lottery said it has canceled promotional contracts worth $1.3 million a year with Media Rare, the St. Paul company that auditors said received special treatment.
Dale McDonnell, a lawyer for the lottery, said the contract cancellations will be effective April 27. McDonnell said the lottery was required to give 60 days' notice.
The contracts were for promotional television and radio shows that highlighted winners and the lottery's connection to a state environmental trust fund, McDonnell said Tuesday.
"We have decided that we want to review how we do our marketing & so at this time we are terminating the broadcast of the shows," McDonnell said.
Media Rare owner Jeff Denney could not be reached for comment.
The lottery also is considering canceling an additional promotional agreement with the company, under which the lottery leases a customized "Environmental Experience Vehicle," he said.
Already, the lottery has discontinued its sponsorship of a promotional bass fishing tournament, criticized by auditors, that had been handled by Media Rare.
"We just need to look at our overall marketing strategy," McDonnell said.