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Legal briefs due soon in Florida Lottery appeal

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Initial briefs are due early next month in the Florida Lottery’s appeal of a Tallahassee judge’s decision that invalidated its $700 million contract for new equipment.

Circuit Judge Karen Gievers in March had invalidated the Lottery’s arrangement with IGT (International Game Technology), agreeing with House Speaker Richard Corcoran that the agency went on an illegal spending spree when it inked the deal last year.

Corcoran had filed a “writ of quo warranto,” a court action against government officials to demand they prove their authority to perform a certain action.

His suit faulted the Lottery “for signing a contract that spends beyond existing budget limitations.” Gievers eventually agreed with House general counsel Adam Tanenbaum, who had said the deal broke state law.

Because Lottery Secretary Tom Delacenserie “lacked the legal authority to enter into the IGT contract, (it) must, therefore, be found to be void and unenforceable,” Gievers wrote.

Delacenserie tendered his resignation last week, effective June 2. His letter did not give a reason.

Gievers faulted the agency for, among other things, not first seeking the Legislature’s permission to enter into a deal that committed the state to as much as two decades’ worth of funding.

The new deal provides much more than equipment, with provisions for in-store signage, self-service ticket checkers and upgraded security in the communications network.

Lottery proceeds go into the state’s Educational Enhancement Trust Fund, which helps pay for public education.

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at [email protected]

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