Witness: Lobbyist influenced lottery bill

Witness: Lobbyist influenced lottery bill

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By J. Andrew Curliss, Staff Writer

A lobbyist for Scientific Games made recommendations at a meeting with House Speaker Jim Black last year that were included in the lottery bill that passed the House, according to testimony this morning in federal court.

The lobbyist, Meredith Norris, was a former aide to Black. During a meeting on April 5, 2005, the day before the House passed the lottery bill, Norris said the commission that would oversee the lottery should comprise three appointees by the governor, three by the speaker and three by the leader of the state Senate, according to testimony this morning by Dianna Jessup, who attended the meeting as a member of the legislative staff. Jessup is now the legal counsel in Black’s office.

Jessup testified that Norris recommended other changes to the bill. Jessup did not elaborate.

"There was one clearly, but I believe there were a few others," Jessup said.

Jessup’s testimony came during the trial of former state lottery commissioner Kevin L. Geddings. Geddings is facing eight fraud charges for what prosecutors say was a scheme to deprive the state of his "honest services" by hiding financial ties to Scientific Games when he took a seat last year on the state lottery commission. Geddings says he is innocent of all charges.(more…)