Wednesday, March 28, 2007
When your number is up
Anyone who thinks Dalton McGuinty's not worried about revelations of corruption at the Ontario Lottery Corporation should read this story by my old friend Sam Pazzano. The issue wasn't making the lottery honest, but discrediting the news report:
Wed, March 28, 2007
How the Grits tried to spin a scandal
Emphasis was on attacking story rather than lottery probe
By SAM PAZZANO, SUN MEDIA
Top Liberal political advisers plotted damage control in the wake of a startling TV broadcast exposing an insider win scandal at the Ontario Lottery Corp., according to documents obtained by Sun Media.
Warren Kinsella, Jim Warren and others met four days after the Oct. 25, 2006, Fifth Estate program which revealed the story of Bob Edmonds, a 78-year-old lottery customer and cancer survivor who was ripped off of his $250,000 prize by a lottery ticket retailer, the documents show.
The broadcast also detailed an unusually high number of major lottery wins by ticket sellers and their employees. Edmonds had to wage a three-year battle against the lottery corporation and settled in 2005.
But Edmonds' battle revealed the agency's measures guarding against retailer fraud were "woefully inadequate," Ombudsman Andre Marin noted in a scathing report this week.
The meeting of Liberal strategists days after the Edmonds' story focused on hiring experts to counter the view of a CBC mathematician that a disproportionate number of insiders were claiming major prizes, due to the fact that this group spends almost three times as much as the ordinary consumer.
The lottery corporation spent $5,000 for a survey of retailer spending and $44,250 for the views of stats experts.
The PR brain trust wanted to convince people that insiders won more frequently only because they played more often.
"As soon as the 'insider win' scandal was exposed, the (OLG) took action -- but instead of investigating what went wrong ... it reacted like a business facing a public relations nightmare, it hired experts to dispute the CBC's findings, even though as our investigators discovered, it knew full well that Mr. Edmonds was far from alone," Marin said.
At the meeting were: Kinsella, a top Grit strategist; Warren, a lottery corporation executive formerly with Premier Dalton McGuinty's office, and reps of two large public relations firms.
Kinsella was not available for comment