The Oregon Lottery has a new executive director, who raises millions of dollars to support public schools and state parks while also drawing criticism for preying on the weak.
Michael Wells, who has been serving as the agency’s interim head, has been chosen by Governor Tina Kotek to take the helm while the state Senate confirms his appointment.
Kotek stated, “The director must be a seasoned leader who will champion transparency and accountability.”
The Oregon Lottery generated almost $909 million during the 2022 fiscal year, distributed to veterans’ programs, outdoor learning, state parks, and public schools. Money from the lottery is a major source of revenue for the state of Oregon, coming in second only to personal income taxes. The selling of lottery games provides funding for the Oregon Lottery. How the money is used is decided by the state Legislature.
But more recently, the organization has drawn criticism when a Howard Center for Investigative Journalism investigation found that the Oregon Lottery specifically targeted communities of color and those with lower incomes, as reported by Willamette Week.
Since 2019, Wells has worked with the Oregon Lottery. His salary will be $270,912. Wells spent over twenty years working in local, state, and federal law enforcement before joining the Oregon Lottery. He was an officer for the Oregon State Police and a special agent for the Oregon Department of Justice’s organized crime division.
Kotek vowed to improve state agency accountability while running for office.
The governor asked the Oregon Department of Energy directors, the Oregon Health Authority, the Oregon Department of Education, the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission, and the former Oregon Lottery to resign early in her term. She also requested resignations from Colt Gill, Andrew Phelps, Patrick Allen, and the Oregon Department of Education director Steve Marks.
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