Arizona Lottery chief Tony Bouie resigns

Jeremy Duda//January 14, 2016

Arizona Lottery chief Tony Bouie resigns

Jeremy Duda//January 14, 2016

Tony Bouie (Photo by Luige del Puerto, Arizona Capitol Times)
Tony Bouie (Photo by Luige del Puerto, Arizona Capitol Times)

Following allegations that he’d improperly used state vehicles for personal reasons and fired several employees and replaced them with friends, Arizona State Lottery Director Tony Bouie resigned his position to avoid being a “distraction,” according to the Governor’s Office.

Daniel Scarpinato, a spokesman for Gov. Doug Ducey, said Bouie provided a verbal resignation Wednesday evening.

“In discussing these recent issues with Director Bouie, the director and the administration agreed this would be a distraction. So, in the best interests of the state, Director Bouie has stepped down,” Scarpinato said.

Ducey appointed Kevin Donnellan, a deputy director at the Arizona Department of Administration, as interim director at the Arizona State Lottery.

The resignation came two days after a New Times article detailing several accusations lodged against Bouie by an anonymous person claiming to be a Lottery employee. In an unsigned letter dated December 22 that was purportedly sent to the Governor’s Office, Attorney General’s Office, the New Times, the Arizona Republic, and members of the Senate Commerce and Workforce Development Committee, the anonymous employee accused Bouie of repeatedly using a state vehicle for personal reasons, claimed he fired several employees to make way for friends, gave unfair advantages to some vendors and used multimillion-dollar vendor contracts as “slush funds.”

According to the anonymous letter-writer, Bouie violated Arizona Department of Administration rules when he used a state vehicle to drive to a doctor’s appointment in Tucson, he often used the vehicle to drive home after work while leaving his personal car at the office and frequently drove his four children around in the state vehicle.

Bouie told the New Times that he used the state-owned Chevrolet Impala to drive his children to Lottery events, but denied using it for personal reasons.

Bouie could not be reached for comment. Scarpinato declined to comment on the specific allegations.

Ducey appointed Bouie, a former NFL player and two-time losing candidate for the Legislature, as Lottery director in January 2015. He immediately faced trouble in the confirmation process after Sen. Kimberly Yee, who chairs the Senate Commerce and Workforce Development Committee, declined to schedule a confirmation hearing for Bouie last year because she hadn’t had an opportunity to interview him, in addition to concerns over Bouie’s support for an amendment to a bill that would have exempted Lottery advertisement contracts from state procurement rules.

On Thursday, Yee told the Arizona Capitol Times that she also had concerns about a personal bankruptcy on Bouie’s record.

Yee said she had additional concerns she wanted Bouie to address before she decided whether to schedule a confirmation hearing for him this session. In addition to the issues raised in the anonymous letter, Yee said she discovered that Bouie had spent agency money on a suite for Arizona Cardinals games at University of Phoenix Stadium and on a tent at the Phoenix Open golf tournament.

Yee said Bouie made those expenditures without proper authorization from the Arizona State Lottery Commission.

“Those were purchases that were made, and even those that should have known about it who have the authority to approve such purchases didn’t even know that occurred,” said Yee, R-Phoenix.

Furthermore, Yee said she had concerns about Bouie’s conduct during his 2008 and 2010 legislative races. In 2008, he was caught lying about having been registered as a Republican in Arizona and in Florida, where he lived while playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, prior to launching his campaign. Yee also said Bouie, who is black, accused opponents of his campaign of being racists.

Some of the allegations against Bouie are similar to issues the Arizona Capitol Times uncovered regarding House Speaker David Gowan and a handful of other House Republican lawmakers and staff. Gowan and House sergeant-at-arms Billy Cloud racked up more the 11,000 miles in state vehicles in the latter half of 2015, which in some cases were used to travel to Gowan’s home in Sierra Vista or to cities where he had campaign events for his run for Arizona’s 1st Congressional District.