Lottery plans lean case against lawsuit

in Apolitical by

The Florida Lottery’s outside lawyer plans to call only two witnesses at trial in the lawsuit filed against it by House Speaker Richard Corcoran.

According to court filings, attorney Barry Richard listed Summer Sylvestri, the Lottery’s procurement director, and Michael Manley, its deputy chief of staff and legislative affairs director.

A non-jury trial is scheduled for March 6.

The speaker sued the agency, which reports to Gov. Rick Scott, saying it was guilty of “wasteful and improper spending” for signing a multiple-year, $700 million deal for new equipment.

Corcoran says the Lottery can’t sign “a contract that spends beyond existing budget limitations.”

Richard has countered that the Legislature cannot “micromanage individual contracts” and noted that the state’s “invitation to negotiate” leading to the contract discloses any deal would be contingent on “an annual appropriation” from lawmakers.

In fact, he adds, such a disclosure is required under state law.

Sylvestri will testify on “why it is important for the Lottery to contract with vendors prior to appropriation of money.”

She’ll also discuss why “the Lottery enters into multi-year contracts generally, and the basis for the decision to make the Contract multi-year.”

Manley will talk about the “importance of the Lottery being able to execute contracts … prior to receiving appropriations.”

And, according to Richard’s filing, he will testify on the “history of the Legislature’s awareness of the Lottery executing multiyear contracts and of the Legislature funding such contracts annually.”

The deal in question with International Game Technology (IGT) will provide the Lottery with an array of new equipment. The contract is for an initial 10-year period, and the Lottery exercised the first of its three available three-year renewal options.

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 jim@floridapolitics.com.