Local News

Ethics Board Releases Account Of Closed Meeting On Former Lottery Commissioner

Posted November 21, 2005 7:00 a.m. EST

— The State Ethics Board Monday released a written account of a high-profile meeting that took place that involves ethics and the lottery.

Outside law enforcement looking at former North Carolina Lottery Commission member Kevin Geddings worried the board's inquiry might compromise the broader investigation. Now, there are calls to strengthen our ethics laws.

"That information coming in, there could be a negative impact on the ongoing investigation, so that's all the concern was," said Ethics Board Director Perry Newson.

Geddings resigned from the commission when Scientific Games disclosed it paid him more than $24,000 in consulting fees this year. On a sworn statement to the Ethics Board, Geddings did not disclose those ties.

In a recent letter, Geddings' attorney claimed the statement was accurate, just incomplete. Considering all the scrutiny, he detailed even more information about his client's involvement, including thousands dollars more in payments to Geddings dating back to 2002 that far exceeded the $24,000.

By law, though, the Ethics Board cannot do anything to Geddings because he already resigned from the commission.

"We do need to look at it to see what needs to occur in the future where this kind of thing doesn't happen again," said Bob Phillips, who runs the government watchdog group Common Cause.

He believes the next legislative session would be a good time to add substance and consistency to state ethics laws.

"I think in an election year, lawmakers like to run on an issue that's popular with the public," Phillips said. "Ethics certainly is one of those. It transcends partisan issues."

The Ethics Board has called on the state Legislature to change ethics laws.

"Historically, just about all ethics regulation and legislation has come about as a result of some kind of crisis," Newson said.

Much of the disclosure information about Geddings had already come out, so the Ethics Board felt that Monday's release would not hurt other investigations.