Florida’s Speaker of the House Prepares to Bring a Lawsuit against IGT
Richard Corcoran, Florida’s new Speaker of the House as of late-2016, is planning a lawsuit against International Game Technology over the state’s Florida Lottery contract. According to Corcoran’s filing, the Florida Lottery overstepped its authority by making a deal which required the legislature to spend more money.
The Florida House Speaker took exception to the Florida Lottery’s additing a stipulation to the multi-year contract which called for an expenditure on vending machines in future years. The veteran lawmaker believes that the Florida State Legislature has the sole authority to spend the taxpayers’ money.
2016 Florida Expenditures on the Lottery
In Corcoran’s draft of the filing, he cited a government agency report that the legislature budgeted in 2016 for $26.6 million to buy terminal machines. The filing states that Florida’s lawmakers have allotted $5 million for instant-ticket vending machines, along with $2.9 million more for full-service vending machines.
In his legal draft, Speaker Corcoran was critical of Tom Delacenserie, the Secretary of the Florida Lottery. The speaker of the house put the blame for the contract squarely at the feet of Delacenserie, who negotiated with IGT over the 15-year Florida Lottery contract.
Lottery Spending More Than Is Allotted
Corcoran wrote about the principle that the Florida Legislature handles finances for the state. He wrote, “Contrary to these established principles, the Secretary of the Florida Lottery solicited and executed a multi-year contract with IGT Global Solutions Corporation that will require the Florida Lottery — by its own admission — to spend more money in future fiscal years than currently is appropriated for the applicable budget categories.
The speaker of the house seemed to imply that the Florida Lottery was double-dipping in government funds. The Lottery is supposed to be a moneymaker for the state, and not the other way around. Corcoran added, “In fact, the Florida Lottery’s legislative budget request for Fiscal Year 2017-18 now asks for an aggregate increase in its ticket machine budget categories and a realignment of those categories to accommodate this new excess contract. This is impermissible.”
Richard Corcoran vs. Rick Scott
Richard Corcoran’s draft could produce the latest political confrontation with Gov. Rick Scott. It was Gov. Scott who appointed Tom Delacenserie as the Secretary of the Florida Lottery in November 2015. Though Richard Corcoran and Rick Scott are both members of the Republican Party, the two men have had a number of disagreements over the proceeding years.
The move by the speaker of the Florida House also might be a case of a new leader staking out territory. After his reelection in November 2016, Richard Corcoran became the new leader of the Florida House. To show there is a proverbial new sheriff in town, Corcoran might be taking a stand on the legislature’s well-founded authority over budgeting.
The fact Tom Delacenserie is the governor’s appointee might make him a particularly enticing target. With precedent on his side, Corcoran has picked a battle he can win. IGT is simple caught in the middle.
Other Battles with the Governor
Over the past few weeks, the legislature has been hectoring Gov. Scott over other expenditures. The legislature moved to defund Visit Florida and Enterprise Florida in recent weeks. Rick Scott argues the two programs were job creators, but the legislature believes they should not be required to pay for the costly programs.
When asked to comment on the IGT lawsuit which Richard Corcoran is preparing, neither the Governor’s Office nor the Florida Lottery offered a comment.
February 20 Update
On February 20, Richard Corcoran officially filed lawsuit against IGT. Upon filing the lawsuit, Corcoran released a statement which said, “The Lottery, and any other agency for that matter, does not have the right to obligate the taxpayers of Florida by even a penny beyond what the people’s elected Representatives say they can. This lawsuit filed today is about the rule of law and the protection of taxpayers.”
The lawsuit asked a Leon County circuit court to find that Lottery Secretary Tom Delacenserie did not have the authority to sing the deal with IGT. Instead, the suit asks that Delacenserie should “take all steps necessary to void that contract.”
Reply from Rick Scott’s Office
Gov. Rick Scott’s office described the Florida House Speaker as “a trial lawyer”, which in GOP politics is a grave insult.
Jackie Schutz, a spokesman for the governor’s office, released a statement which said, “The Florida Lottery’s record sales have led to historic contributions to our state’s education system and the House sues? Not shocking to have another lawsuit from a trial lawyer.“