Under the Dome

Lawmaker calls for inquiry into S.C. lottery

Staff WritersJuly 24, 2006 

  • UP: POLITICAL CONTRIBUTIONS. The Senate passed an ethics reform bill that would continue to allow lobbyists to raise money from their clients. They just couldn't deliver the checks to the lawmakers.

    DOWN: PRICE GOUGING AT THE PUMP. The legislature passed a law allowing the state to prosecute gasoline price gougers. But the law would kick in only if the governor declares a disaster or a state of emergency.

    UP: INSTANT RUNOFF. The Senate gave its OK to an experiment in up to 20 counties and cities with abolishing election runoffs. Voters would list their first and second choice. If no candidate won 40 percent initially, election officials would count the second choice of the votes for the candidates eliminated to determine the winner.

A South Carolina senator has called for an investigation of that state's lottery contracts after the indictment of former N.C. lottery commissioner Kevin Geddings.

Sen. Greg Ryberg, an outspoken lottery opponent, asked legislative auditors recently to investigate the awarding of a contract by the state of South Carolina to Scientific Games. Ryberg could not be reached by Dome.

The North Carolina indictment, he told The Associated Press, casts "a dark cloud of suspicion over the award of that contract in South Carolina."

Geddings, 41, is a former gubernatorial aide in South Carolina who played a big role in the passage and start of the lottery in South Carolina before moving to Charlotte.

Geddings was indicted in May on mail and wire fraud charges stemming from allegations he misled North Carolina officials about his work with Scientific Games. Prosecutors say he didn't disclose that his consulting firm received nearly $230,000 between 2001 and 2005 either from Scientific Games International or a company it later acquired.

Ryberg, an Aiken Republican, said he was concerned "the award of the lottery contract occurred as a result of graft or corruption and that consequently South Carolina citizens suffered, and continue to suffer, from this fraudulent activity."

Robinson raises lots of funds

Republican Vernon Robinson entered the 13th Congressional District contest with a reputation as a serious fundraiser, and he is living up to his rep.

Robinson, a former Winston-Salem city councilman, reported raising $561,086 during the three-month period that ended June 30. U.S. Rep. Brad Miller, a Democrat from Raleigh, reported raising $362,426 during that same period.

Overall, Robinson has raised $791,368 in this election cycle and has $466,768 in the bank. Miller has raised $969,858 and reported having $540,376 in the bank.

During his 2004 congressional race, Robinson raised $3 million in losing the GOP primary to Virginia Foxx. Robinson said that through the past two elections, he has received contributions from 42,000 individuals, which he said is more than any other House candidate in U.S. history.

GOP hopeful now a liaison

Virginia Johnson, the GOP candidate who unsuccessfully challenged Miller in 2004, begins work today as a congressional liaison for the Pentagon.

Johnson will have the title of deputy assistant secretary of defense for House Affairs. She was a congressional staffer who moved back home to challenge Miller.

Former Tenn. QB fills coffers

In two of the state's most closely watched congressional races, Democrat Heath Shuler is raising enough money to be financially competitive, but Democrat Larry Kissell is struggling.

Shuler, a former Heisman Trophy runner-up at the University of Tennessee, reported raising $313,563 in the last quarter and $1,085,624 total for his campaign in the 11th District.

Shuler is challenging Republican incumbent Rep. Charles Taylor, who raised $172,819 during the last quarter and $1,059,043 total.

Shuler reports having $668,745 on hand as of June 30, while Taylor had $237,924 on hand.

In the 8th District race, incumbent Republican Rep. Robin Hayes has a large fundraising advantage over his Democratic challenger. Hayes raised $248,422 in the last quarter and $1.3 million total. Kissell reported raising $97,741 last quarter and $178,165 total.

Hayes had $1.2 million cash on hand as of June 30, while Kissell had $79,453 cash on hand and $35,000 of debts.

By staff writers J. Andrew Curliss and Rob Christensen. Curliss can be reached at 829-4840 or acurliss@newsobserver.com.

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