Ohio Lottery Director Inappropriately Touched Employees Before Sudden Retirement

Assistant lottery director was aware of violations but did nothing

According to an independent investigation, former Ohio Lottery Director Pat McDonald was accused of sending text messages that expressed “inappropriate fondness and innuendo,” touching two employees without their permission, and commenting on the appearance of two employees.

McDonald suddenly retired on April 12, and Gov. Mike DeWine’s office cited “health reasons” at the time. A day later, it was reported that McDonald was escorted out of the Ohio Lottery offices, and DeWine’s office changed its stance, saying that it was launching an investigation into “H.R. irregularities.”

On Friday, the Columbus Dispatch reported the results of the Zashin & Rich law firm’s investigation, which also revealed that Assistant Lottery Director Sean Webster was aware of the behavior but failed to intervene. Webster will be stripped of his supervisory role, moved to a different department, and have his pay cut.

According to the Dispatch, McDonald denied the accusations in April but did not comment on Zashin & Rich’s report, which revealed that the state’s human resources department met with McDonald earlier this year after an employee complained about unwanted touching. McDonald apologized and the situation was believed to have been resolved, but the employee shared additional information with H.R. in April.

Because he retired, McDonald was not subject to any disciplinary action. The report also showed that McDonald suggested some employees be flexible with their work hours and ignore timekeeping rules.

Long history of public service

Prior to his resignation, McDonald had been lottery director for more than four years and served eight years as the Ohio Lottery Commission chairman. McDonald previously held various government positions, including 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 deputy state treasurer.

DeWine appointed former aerospace and defense liaison and northeast Ohio regional liaison Michelle Gillcrist as interim lottery director. The lottery is in charge of sports wagering kiosks at retail partners’ locations around the state and also manages video lottery terminals at Ohio’s seven horse-track casinos (aka racinos).

Photo: Getty Images


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