The state's top fiscal watchdog says his office will scrutinize state payments made to consultants working on a plan to lease the Pennsylvania Lottery to a private firm.
"The money that was paid to these firms, what did it actually go to?" said Democratic state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale Tuesday about the planned review. He said more than $3.4 million has been paid to firms associated with the effort to lease the lottery. The money has come from the state's Lottery Fund, which supports programs benefiting seniors.
"This could be going to Meals on Wheels, this could be going to property tax/rent rebate, this could be going to Area Agencies on Aging to help provide care to our seniors," DePasquale said. "And, instead, it's going to a lottery privatization scheme that clearly is not going to happen."
Earlier this year, Democratic state Attorney General Kathleen Kane threw out a contract to privatize the state Lottery. But the Corbett administration has kept the bid by British firm Camelot Global Services alive. The bid is set to expire Tuesday unless it's extended again. A spokesman for the governor said Tuesday morning he couldn't say whether the bid would be prolonged.
DePasquale has put no deadline on his review of the money paid to firms consulting the Corbett administration on the possible deal. Even if he found something fishy, the auditor general can't do much more than issue recommendations.
"The biggest thing is we have the big stick of the soapbox and the bullhorn of the public discourse," DePasquale said. "But if something is that wrong, we would then have the ability to forward it to the attorney general, if we think it's something potentially criminal."
Word of the auditor general's review comes on the heels of state Treasurer Rob McCord's criticism of the Corbett administration for continuing to pursue lottery privatization. McCord, a Democrat, is also running for governor.