We got a tip yesterday that Bridgette Frazier had left her job as legal counsel for the Arkansas lottery. Nobody wanted to say much. Ernestine Middleton, v.p. for administration, finally sent an e-mail saying Frazier had resigned and the job had not been posted so she couldn't answer a question about a replacement. Frazier sent a brief e-mail in response to our question: “I have left. I had a great time and it was an honor to work with so many wonderful Arkansans.”
Frazier, who had worked on Commission Chairman Ray Thornton's staff when he was a congressman, along with now-Sen. Bob Johnson, was hired in July from a House counsel job created when Johnson was House speaker for $105,000. The connections drew some attention in the lottery startup.
Thornton told legislators at an oversight meeting today that Frazier resigned in a disagreement over which lottery staff members should receive merit pay increases. The dispute apparently was with Middleton. Frazier had noted to us in a conversation some time ago that her pay was relatively modest for an experienced lawyer, particularly when compared with the $200,000 and up, way up, pay received by Middleton, Director Ernie Passailaigue, etc. (PS: It was unclear from the report we received from a person attending the meeting if the disagreement over pay related to Frazier's or other members of the commission staff. But we were later informed that it related to Frazier's argument that pay increases were due some lower paid employees -- pay raises that weren't planned -- unless the lottery adopted specific rules to supersede the law. She stood up for Arkies, in other words.)
Middleton and Ernie P. didn't make the meeting today. Middleton wasn't in the office yesterday either.
UPDATE II: House Speaker Robbie Wills, the stepfather of the Arkansas Lottery, hopes the scholarships will be worth $5,000 each when they get rolling.