Governor Opens Investigation Surrounding Lottery Director’s Sudden Departure

Governor's office cites need to probe potential 'HR irregularities'

A day after Ohio Lottery Director Pat McDonald announced his retirement for “medical reasons,” Gov. Mike DeWine’s office said it would launch an independent investigation into possible “HR irregularities” that may have prompted McDonald’s departure.

WKYC posted a photo Thursday of McDonald being escorted out of the lottery offices the day before, and an industry source with direct knowledge of the situation told OH Bets that McDonald had been fired.

DeWine’s office on Wednesday said that McDonald had resigned for “health reasons,” but it did not elaborate despite McDonald’s departure being immediate. Michelle Gillcrist, the governor’s aerospace and defense liaison and Northeast Ohio regional liaison, was named interim director of the lottery.

On Thursday, DeWine spokesman Dan Tierney told WKYC that McDonald was escorted out of the lottery building by two of DeWine’s staff members. He did not reveal if DeWine requested McDonald’s resignation, but it appears that McDonald’s departure goes beyond the “medical reasons” he cited in his resignation letter.

What could ‘HR Irregularities’ be?

The phrase “HR irregularities” has wide potential meaning covering human resources issues, leading to potential speculation as DeWine’s office prepares for an investigation.

“The governor’s office has been made aware of allegations of potential HR irregularities at the Ohio Lottery Commission,” Tierney told WKYC. “The administration is in the process of engaging an outside firm with relevant expertise to conduct an independent investigation regarding these alleged irregularities.”

Tierney also told that “the independent investigation will determine any Lottery staff involvement in any alleged irregularities.”

DeWine appointed McDonald to run the $4 billion lottery operation in February 2019. He previously served on the Ohio Lottery Commission since 2007, including eight years as its chairman. Prior to that, McDonald held various government positions, including as director of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, finance director for the Ohio Secretary of State, assistant director of the Ohio Department of Commerce, and as a deputy state treasurer.

In addition to overseeing lottery operations, McDonald’s office is in charge of sports wagering kiosks that are being placed at lottery partners around the state since wagering went live in the state Jan. 1. The lottery also manages video lottery terminals at the state’s seven horse-track casinos.


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