Texas Lottery

Executive Director Resigns ...

Originally Posted - March 23, 2002
Updated - Oct 8, 2002

Below you will find two newspaper stories that I believe you will find
of interest. The first Ft. Worth Telegram story appeared in the paper last
March 2002 and the second story was published Sept 25, 2002.

I'm the one who originally reported Commissioner Criners resignation to the
newspapers and I was the first person to report Commissioner Criners resignation.
However, to obtain confirmation before releasing the story, I had to contact the Governors
office - the same as I had to do to obtain Commissioner Cox's address and phone number.
In these cases, the TLC "claimed" they had no knowledge of Criners resignation
nor did they know what Commissioner Cox's address and phone number was.

In addition to these two matters, the TLC currently "claims" they don't know the prize
amounts that are offered on upcoming scratch games. I won't go there in this writing though.

To insure integrity and fairness to all, the TLC must disclose pertinent game information
and they must quit lying to the people of Texas. Where I am concerned, they
consider me a "whistle blower" and have taken actions of retaliation against me. This
is why they require that I make an Open Records request for every question that
I have and then they wait the 10 full working days before mailing the information to me.
The information I seek is information that they have at their finger tips but refuse
to release to me.

As a friend put it to me the other day, the rule of thumb regarding releasing information is,
"the 10 days is the maximum, and agencies are expected, actually required, to comply
with request immediately if the material sought is available and clearly subject to disclosure.

But the TLC does not adhere to this policy where I am concerned but they do comply for others.
There seems to be no recourse for me to take other than to sue them. I am the only person
who reports in depth details about the Texas Lottery and the TLC prefers
players not know that much about them. Now, read on ....

Update: At 5:30 this afternoon, Sept. 26, 2002, Ms. Linda Cloud
resigned as Executive Director of the TLC.

: 10-8-02
: I posted my comments about the resignation
of Ms. Cloud and answered your questions. Click here.

Update: - 10-10-02: Houston Chronicle reports Ms. Cloud sues
Governor Perry's campaign staff. Click here


As It Appeared In The ...


Ft. Worth Star Telegram

Texas Lottery director now admits she lied

Star-Telegram - Austin Bureau

Sept 25, 2002

AUSTIN--The director of the Texas Lottery acknowledged Tuesday that she lied about her contacts with the office of Gov. Rick Perry after one of his appointees was accused of inappropriate conduct with a female employee.

Linda Cloud insisted months ago that she knew nothing about the complaints lodged against former Lottery Commissioner Walter Criner, who has since stepped down. Cloud also said at the time
that she had never discussed the matter with the governor's office.

That story changed Tuesday, when Cloud was asked about the incident at a legislative hearing designed to improve the agency's performance. She said that her staff informed her about the Criner
incident shortly after it happened in February, and that she had spoken to the governor's office about it.

Cloud's new version of events contradicts the one told by Perry's office. Spokesman Gene Acuna reiterated Tuesday that the subject of any allegations against Criner never came up in Cloud's
discussions with the governor's office.

Asked why she had provided false answers to the Star-Telegram in March, Cloud cited the great "sensitivity" surrounding the Criner controversy.

"It put me in a bad position," Cloud said. "It wasn't something I felt comfortable talking about." In an interview seven months ago, Cloud denied any knowledge of the accusations.

"I don't know anything about any complaints," she had said. "You're asking me something that has not been shared with me."

Asked Tuesday whether she was pressured by the governor's office or any other state official to keep quiet about the incident, Cloud responded, "absolutely not."

Perry aides said previously that Criner was concerned that the allegations could become an issue in the highly charged election between Perry and his Democratic opponent. Criner, whom Perry
appointed in March 2001, did not return phone calls Tuesday.

State investigators determined that Criner had invaded a female employee's "personal space" during a lunchtime meeting Feb. 7 in Houston, but that he did not commit an offense. The Houston Police
Department investigated the allegation but did not charge Criner.

The employee, an audit manager working for the lottery in Houston, had accused Criner of making inappropriate sexual comments and grabbing her wrist and arm hard enough to leave her bruised for
several days.

At the time, critics questioned whether Criner had received special treatment because records showed that he was never questioned.

Handwritten notes and interviews also revealed that investigators agreed to let the governor's office alert Criner in the event that he was going to be interviewed.

Cloud said Tuesday that she felt that Criner had not received special treatment, but she described enhanced procedures after the incident, including more rigorous ethics training for commissioners
and employees.

The Criner incident "along with other things we've had to deal with employees along the way has caused us to think that we need to enhance our policies, so we've done that," Cloud said.

Cloud's admissions contrast with statements made then and now by Perry officials. Acuna, the Perry spokesman, denied Cloud's contention that she had conversations about the allegations with
Perry's chief of staff, Mike McKinney.

"It was not discussed," he said.

Criner stepped down Feb. 27, three weeks after the touching incident.

The governor's office never announced his resignation but confirmed it when reporters began asking about it three weeks later, in mid-March.

Although the governor's chief of staff, top lawyer and other officials knew about the allegations, Perry has said he wasn't aware of the complaint against Criner until he read about it in the
newspaper on March 23.

Jay Root,
(512) 476-4294 jroot@star-telegram.com

The first story that appeared in the
Ft Worth Star Telegram
last March is below.

Click here to see what I said about this last March 2002 -
It's in blue italics under Commissioner Clowe's opening statement.

I also posted on my "Daily Page" a notice on Commissioners Criner
resignation and the fact that the TLC would not confirm this "rumor."
Click here and scroll down to the March 18, 2002 entry.

My comments about this situation and my answer to your questions.
Click here.

10-10-02: Houston Chronicle reports Ms. Cloud sues
Governor Perry's campaign staff. Click here

While this story in itself is disturbing, what's more disturbing
is the TLC still claims, on a daily basis, that they don't know
things when they really they do.

Ft. Worth Star Telegram

March 23, 2002

Former lottery official accused
The allegations include assault and sexual harassment
Star-Telegram Austin Bureau

AUSTIN - An audit manager for the Texas lottery has filed a criminal complaint against a state lottery commissioner, alleging that he harassed and injured her at a Houston restaurant last month.

The Houston Police Department is investigating the commissioner, who has since resigned from the three-member oversight panel, officials said.

In an interview Friday, Houston audit manager Sharon Johnson said that Walter Criner Sr., appointed by Gov. Rick Perry to the Texas Lottery Commission a year ago, made inappropriate sexual comments and then grabbed her wrist and arm so hard that the bruises lasted several days.

"I tried to pull away instinctively, but he was holding me really tight and I couldn't move," she said.

Some three weeks after the incident in Houston, Criner quietly submitted his resignation to Perry, though he still officially serves on the commission until Perry appoints a replacement. Criner, 55, is president and chief executive of Criner-Daniels and Associates, a Houston computer services company.

Criner did not return repeated phone calls placed to his Houston office Friday. He has not been charged with any wrongdoing. State investigators call the incident a "breach of personal space" that involved no sexual harassment and constituted no offense.

Ray Sullivan, a top aide to Perry, said the governor's office was made aware of the allegations before Criner resigned. But he said that Criner made the decision himself and that Perry did not ask him to quit or want him to.

In a letter to Perry dated Feb. 27, Criner said time pressures prompted him to resign, and he expressed hope that he could "serve the state again in the future." Word of the resignation did not become public until Monday, when reporters began asking about it.

Johnson, 40, audit manager at the Texas lottery's small Houston office, had several pictures taken of her bruised arm and wrist. And she said she eventually complained to Houston police upon learning that the state attorney general's office was not pursuing a criminal case.

"I thought all along these people were looking at pictures of me with my bruises and being in pain and I thought for sure someone would think this is a crime - at the least it was an assault," she said.

She said the attorney general's office told her, "We aren't the police; you should have reported it to the police." She added, "And that's when I went and did it myself."

An offense report filed March 6 with the Houston Police Department contains an allegation of assault and "bodily injury" against an unnamed suspect. An investigation of the incident is under way, said Alvin Wright, a Houston police spokeman.

Investigators from the attorney general's office acknowledged that they looked into the allegations and said Criner did touch Johnson.

"Yes, there was a grabbing of the wrist," said Maggie Freeman, deputy human resources director at the attorney general's office. "We concluded that it did not rise to sex harassment."

Bill Jones, Perry's lawyer, questioned Friday whether Criner was the person who inflicted the bruises.

It is not in dispute that Criner and Texas Bingo Director Billy Atkins visited Houston on Feb. 7 to tour Bingo operations in the area. As Houston audit manager, Johnson was responsible for escorting the men on the tour.

After visiting at least two facilities, the three broke for lunch and went to Atchafalaya's restaurant. What happened next is the subject of dispute.

According to Johnson, Criner bragged about his relationship with Perry and mentioned that he frequented cigar bars with Houston-area state legislators.

She said he also spoke of his fondness for tossing beads at bare-breasted women at Mardi Gras celebrations and of raucous parties he threw at his Houston home. She said he told her couples at one party were trying to have sex in his room, prompting him to declare that "nobody was having sex in his room but him."

He also mentioned that he was single, asked about her marital status and then told her that the carpet in his house was "the color of my hair," she said.

At one point, the conversation turned to Criner's service in the Vietnam War and the violent dreams he said he has often experienced since then.

Criner then told her that his girlfriends "wouldn't stay in bed with him while he was having those dreams," she said.

"Then he said something like, 'Let me show you,' " Johnson said. Criner then grabbed her wrist with one hand and her upper arm with another, she said. Johnson said she tried to pull away but could not.

"So I'm sitting there in this vise grip and he looks at me with this weird look and he just squeezes me," she said. "It was really painful."

After lunch, she said she was so shocked she didn't know what to do. She said she took the men to more Bingo halls after lunch, but made no immediate complaint because she was afraid of retaliation.

"I was so intimidated because I was sitting there with the commissioner and the director of my division [Atkins]," she said. "I am so low on the totem pole."

Atkins declined to comment on the incident.

The investigation began after Texas lottery attorneys were told of the allegations, state officials said. After the governor's office was alerted, Sullivan, the aide to Perry, said the decision was made to hand it over to the attorney general's office.

Linda Cloud, director of the Texas lottery, said she was unaware of the allegations and had no knowledge of the investigation.

The attorney general's office sent Freeman and Randy McNair, director of human resources, to Houston twice to investigate the allegations. The last visit was March 1, they said.

Freeman could not recall if Criner said women would not stay in bed with him when he was having his violent dreams, but she said "there were inconsistencies" in Johnson's statements. They said the conclusion was that Criner had simply invaded Johnson's "personal space" but did not sexually harass her or illegally harm her.

McNair said Johnson herself acknowledged that the behavior didn't constitute sexual harassment - a contention Johnson disputes.

"I was told by the attorney general's office that it wasn't sexual harassment," she said. "I said, OK, I'm not an attorney."

She also said that the attorney general's office did not keep her informed about the investigation and that nobody, including Criner, ever apologized.

"I've been very, very isolated," she said. "Nobody has ever apologized. Nobody has asked how I'm doing, from the agency or anything. I'm just disappointed nobody has said a word."

Jay Root, (512) 476-4294

- End Story -

My comments about Ms. Cloud's resignation - Click here.

Comments anyone? Email me. Click here.

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