Bee file, 2013. Voters approved the California Lottery in 1984 to supplement public school funding.

Another California Lottery director leaves office

Published: Tuesday, Jul. 16, 2013 - 12:00 am
Last Modified: Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013 - 2:50 pm

After less than two years on the job, the director of the California Lottery has abruptly quit.

Robert O'Neill's resignation took effect on Monday, just three days after he announced his sudden departure in a Friday afternoon email to staff.

"I am resigning as Director of the California State Lottery to pursue other personal and professional interests," O'Neill, 63, said in the email.

O'Neill was appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown. Evan Westrup, a Brown spokesman, emailed a statement to The Bee on Monday, saying, "We are grateful to Mr. O'Neill for his commitment and service."

Brown has tapped the lottery's chief deputy director, Paula LaBrie, 53, to take over the department "until a permanent director is appointed," Westrup said.

LaBrie was legislative counsel for the Automobile Club of Northern California, Nevada and Utah for 14 years before taking the state lottery's No. 2 position in 2011. A Democrat, she holds a law degree from Hastings College of the Law.

The sudden resignation and LaBrie's fill-in assignment give the lottery its fourth director since Brown returned to the governor's office in 2011.

Shortly after returning for his third term, Brown dismissed Joan Borucki three years ago and named Linh Nguyen her interim replacement at the lottery.

A year later, Brown appointed O'Neill, a former executive with the global audit, tax and advisory firm KPMG LLP to fill the $147,900-per-year job.

Voters approved the California Lottery in 1984 to supplement public school funding. Through fiscal 2011-12, it took in more than $70 billion from sales of lottery tickets and scratchers, some $4.3 billion in the last year alone.

About 33 percent of the money goes to schools, according to the lottery's website, and 55 percent pays for prizes. The balance of revenue covers retailers' bonuses and commissions, operating expenses and other costs.

Call The Bee's Jon Ortiz, (916) 321-1043. Follow him on Twitter @thestateworker and read his blog, The State Worker.

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