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Candidate Jones Says Davis Is Stonewalling in Lottery Case

January 16, 2002|NICHOLAS RICCARDI and MARK Z. BARABAK | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

As Gov. Gray Davis prepared to join two of his three GOP rivals on the broadcast airwaves, Secretary of State and gubernatorial hopeful Bill Jones accused him of helping perpetuate a state lottery system in which tickets were sold after all major prizes had been awarded.

Lottery officials last month acknowledged that in 11 of the more than 100 Scratchers games held in the last five years, tickets were sold after all the big prizes were claimed. At the same time that they admitted that practice, officials apologized and offered a $1-million makeup drawing for all former Scratchers players.

Although the system began under Davis' predecessor, Republican Pete Wilson, Jones charged that the Davis administration has stonewalled a legal challenge to the practice that was filed last summer and is dragging its feet on releasing critical documents to the public.

"We have witnessed in this administration repeated and rampant abuses of power, rooted in arrogance and blind political ambition," Jones, a Republican, said at a Culver City news conference. "This lottery story is yet another example."

It was Jones' second recent foray into the lottery topic.

The Davis campaign scoffed at the tactic, which the governor's aides attributed in part to Jones' desire to keep himself in the news at a time when he has not raised enough money to buy advertising.

"This kind of thing is becoming routine for Bill Jones," spokesman Roger Salazar said. "I think he's grasping at issues to keep his name in the paper, and I don't think it's very becoming of a gubernatorial candidate."

As they fended off Jones' criticism Tuesday, Davis and his campaign were preparing to launch the first television advertising of his reelection effort, with a statewide spot slated to begin airing Thursday.

Last year, the governor, a Democrat seeking a second term, aired a radio ad discussing efforts to address the state's electricity crisis.

Davis campaign officials declined Tuesday to discuss the content of the ad, which was filmed earlier this week, or any other details of the advertising effort. An announcement was scheduled for today.

Former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan began broadcasting TV spots last week, and recently extended the run of a biographical advertisement airing across most of the state. On Monday, businessman Bill Simon Jr. began airing a radio spot; people in the broadcast industry said he paid $300,000 for a two-week run.

Jones, who trails the other candidates in money raised and cash on hand, hopes to join them on the airwaves by the end of the month.

Jones' prior news conference on the lottery imbroglio, in Burbank on Jan. 3, drew half a dozen television cameras and a scrum of reporters barking questions. Tuesday, he did not pull in such a crowd.

The site was the parking lot in front of Bill's Liquor, a convenience shop selling lottery tickets on Culver Boulevard. As Jones strained to be heard over the rumble of traffic, locals pulled into the lot and walked past the sole television camera at the news conference to buy groceries inside.

Jones said that on Jan. 3, he had filed a request under the state's public records act for all audits of the lottery and all communication between the lottery and the governor's office about the case. The governor's office, he complained, has yet to produce the paperwork, taking an optional extra 10-day extension.

Jones also called for legislative hearings, and criticized Davis for allowing state attorneys to argue that California government is not restricted by laws requiring truth in advertising. Those contentions led a judge last week to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the lottery.

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