Wearing Valentine's Day red, Attorney General Kathleen Kane spoke for five minutes today and rejected an agreement that would have turned over management of the Pennsylvania Lottery to British-based Camelot.
"We review about 5,000 contracts a year and while most are approved, we do not rubber stamp any one of them," Kane said.
And Kane had no rubber stamp for the lottery deal Governor Tom Corbett signed last month.
Kane took no questions from the media, read a prepared statement and promptly left the podium when she was finished.
But in those five minutes, Kane rejected the deal and called it unconstitutional on several grounds. Most notably, she said lottery management and policy should be set by the Legislature not the governor.
She also said that Corbett usurped the power of the Gaming Control Board when he opted to allow Camelot to expand the lottery into games such as Keno.
"It's a great Valentine's present for 200-plus lottery employees," said David Fillman, executive director of AFSCME #13, which represents most of the lottery's union workforce.
Representative Patty Kim (D-Harrisburg) also applauded Kane's decision.
"I felt uncomfortable that this governor made a decision, or a deal, with this company. I think it should have been out in the open and fully vetted. It stunk from the very beginning. I'm so glad we're gonna clear the air and do it right from now on."
Corbett, who got no advanced notice of Kane's decision, reacted following a transportation press conference in Pittsburgh. He said he didn't agree with Kane's analysis and is exploring his appeal options. Corbett also said he not only dislikes what Kane said but how she said it.
"I have reviewed many contracts myself as Attorney General and I do not recall one time that I held a press conference when I said 'no.'"
With the decision, the state will now be saying no to an extra $50 million in this year's budget for senior programs that Camelot promised in the lottery deal.
"The real losers in this will be the seniors and taxpayers of Pennsylvania by leaving billions of dollars of guaranteed income," said Matt Brouillette of the conservative Commonwealth Foundation. "This will result in fewer programs for seniors and higher taxes for Pennsylvanians."
Kane acknowledged as much but said that's not her fault, it's the governor's.
"It is disingenuous to put the cart before the horse by promising money to people in need based upon a contract, before making sure that contract was legal and then blaming the messenger when it is deemed illegal."
After less than a month in office and the gloves are off between the state's two heavyweights. Round one goes to Kane.
Critics say she's playing politics by rejecting the deal and tweaking the governor. An AG spokesman, however, says the attorneys that reviewed and rejected the contract are longtime AG employees who also worked for the previous AG, Tom Corbett.
A review of campaign records show that AFSCME, the union that represents lottery workers, contributed $30,000 to Kane's campaign last year.
That may raise eyebrows, but AFSCME #13's executive director Fillman insists money did not factor into Kane's decision.
"Absolutely not. No favors were called on this at all. And I'm glad to see it that way because it was their [the AG's attorneys] taking a look at the contract and making their own determination."
Contributions are, after all, part of our system and legal.
Corbett took a million dollars from Marcellus Shale drillers in his initial run for governor.
A Camelot spokesman expressed disappointment at Kane's rejection and said the deal would have guaranteed "unprecedented profits for senior programs."