by Max Brantley
Hidden gambling options aren't the only little secrets kept from the public about the new state lottery.
Who knew, for example, that the law allowed the lottery commission chairman, Ray Thornton, to unilaterally order up expensive perks for lottery director Ernie Passailaigue
The Democrat-Gazette reported today that Thornton had authorized a one-year housing allowance for Ernie P. costing almost $1,000 a month. The state Finance and Administration Department duly cut the first check. Ernie has since decided to forego the allowance. But he had asked about temporary housing assistance during the hiring process so that a housing search wouldn't deter him from getting right to work.
Thornton was all too happy to help. But Thornton's former employee, Julie Baldridge, who was Passailaigue's first lottery hire, got quickly to work finding Ernie a Riverdale crash pad so all is well on the home front. And he's kindly agreed to pay his own rent.
You wonder. If Ernie needed a new wardrobe, but didn't have time to shop, what with his lottery duties and all, would the state have cut him a check for new duds made to order from old measurements by his South Carolina haberdasher so as to save him shopping time? Silly comparison, I know. But the central question is whether there is another agency of state government where expense payments of this size can be ordered up by a commission chairman and the check will be cut, no questions asked, by DFA?
What else don't we know about the transparent lottery?