A package of bawdy photos allegedly showing senior state Lottery leaders carrying on at a Southern California piano bar, with one image showing an official putting his head up a woman’s shirt, was sent to Gov. Jerry Brown’s office last week in an appeal from an anonymous employee urging the administration to investigate the department.
Brown’s office late Thursday said he is asking the attorney general’s office to look into the letter and the attached photos.
“The contents of the letter are troubling,” Brown spokeswoman Ali Bay said.
It was the second time that the package and an appeal for an investigation was sent to the administration. The similar anonymous package was sent to the administration a year ago.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Tribune
The Sacramento Bee received a copy at the time, as well as the latest package.
This time, the employee wrote a letter on Lottery stationery. “These types of unprofessional shenanigans have become a regular practice of this management team when they travel to meetings,” the letter reads.
Russ Lopez, a spokesman for the California State Lottery, declined to comment on the letter and photos.
One of the images allegedly shows Lottery Director Hugo Lopez at the bar. Another allegedly shows a senior Lottery employee with his head up a woman’s shirt.
The scene allegedly unfolded after a 2016 sales conference. Some Lottery employees visited a dueling piano bar in Claremont, where musicians commonly play up bawdy themes.
The three-page letter includes a number of instances in which the author contends senior Lottery leaders disparaged subordinates and used inappropriate language. The author argues that senior leaders are showing favoritism in their hiring and promotions, too.
The Lottery recently has recorded soaring revenue gains, with total annual sales approaching $7 billion. That’s up from $5.5 billion in 2015.
Two longtime Lottery employees said they were familiar with the letter’s allegations, although they were not at the piano bar. They said the anonymous complaints reflect low morale in the department.
“I feel that it’s sad that our co-workers have to go through such great lengths to bring attention to this cronyism, this hiring,” said Paulina Ishaya, a Lottery sales representative and shop steward for Service Employees International Union Local 1000.
“People are afraid to come forward,” said Bob Medof, who is also a Lottery sales representative and SEIU shop steward. “It’s unfortunate. They’re just afraid. People tell me something and they say, ‘Don’t quote me on that.’ ”