In 2019, Pat McDonald, who was the Director of the Ohio Lottery at the time, was pictured with a lottery winner. However, McDonald resigned suddenly in April of this year after a female subordinate accused him of misconduct.
Zashin & Rich, a Cleveland-based law firm, was hired by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine (R) to investigate allegations of misconduct made by a female employee at the Ohio Lottery Commission against former Director Pat McDonald. The law firm recently submitted its findings to the DeWine administration, which made the report public in a Friday news release.
According to the report, the female employee first reported the misconduct to Elizabeth Alex, the deputy director of the lottery’s office of human resources, in February. The employee claimed that McDonald gave unwelcome hugs, awkwardly touched their shoulders and arms, and made inappropriate comments about their appearances.
The same employee went to HR again in April to provide further details on why she felt uncomfortable around McDonald. This prompted DeWine’s Chief of Staff, Stephanie McCloud, to meet with McDonald on April 11 to discuss the allegations. McDonald denied the allegations and apologized to the female employee who initially filed the complaint with Alex.
McDonald, who earned approximately $120,000 per year as director, resigned from his position following the investigation.
As the Director of the Ohio Lottery Commission, Pat McDonald was in charge of a $5 billion annual lottery operation. During the most recent fiscal year, the Ohio Lottery sold $5.3 billion in tickets and retained over $1.4 billion, which is primarily used to support public education in the state.
In addition to overseeing the lottery, the Ohio Lottery Commission is also responsible for regulating the state’s seven racinos and retail sports betting in bars and other small businesses. Commercial casinos and online sportsbooks in Ohio are regulated by a separate agency, the Ohio Casino Control Commission.
McDonald held the position of director from February 2019 until his resignation last month. He claimed his departure was due to medical reasons, but the report detailed that he “explicitly denied” the allegations of misconduct before disclosing a significant medical condition. He resigned the day after meeting with Stephanie McCloud, DeWine’s Chief of Staff.
McDonald was appointed by Governor DeWine to the director position in 2019, but he had previously worked at the lottery agency as a commissioner since 2007. Before that, he served as the director of the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections for six years.
There is no legal recourse available to the state
The investigation conducted by Zashin & Rich did not uncover any concrete evidence to suggest that Pat McDonald committed any illegal acts while serving as director of the Ohio Lottery.
While text messages sent by McDonald to one of the female employees were deemed to express an “inappropriate fondness,” the law firm’s investigators noted that potential punishment for the state to impose against McDonald “is negated by his departure.”
Following McDonald’s resignation, Michelle Gillcrist was appointed as interim director of the Ohio Lottery by Governor DeWine. In 2021, the Ohio Lottery generated over $5.5 billion in ticket sales, making it the seventh-largest lottery in the United States, behind Florida, New York, California, Texas, Georgia, and Massachusetts.