A mid-state entrepreneur who spent 20 years in the service station industry has been appointed to oversee the $3.7 billion Pennsylvania Lottery, to the disappointment of Democrats who had been advocating for a nationwide search.
Silvan B. Lutkewitte III will be the lottery's new executive director starting Monday, according to an announcement Friday from Department of Revenue Secretary Dan Meuser. Mr. Lutkewitte, 50, of Hershey, has served part-time on the Pennsylvania Independent Regulatory Review Commission since 2009, including service as the commission's chairman.
Before that, he spent 20 years in the gas station and convenience store industry, most recently as an "alternative fuels manager" with Lehigh Gas Partners, a wholesale distributor of motor fuels that also buys and leases out gas station and convenience store properties.
His resume lists him as the CEO of a company called Targepeutics, a "biopharmaceutical company developing selective molecularly targeted therapeutics to fight cancer" and other diseases.
Mr. Lutkewitte "brings broad experience in business growth, retail operations and contract negotiation to this leadership role, as well as a deep understanding of the legislative and regulatory processes," Mr. Meuser said.
Mr. Lutkewitte could not be reached for comment.
House Democrats were unimpressed with the appointment.
"It's a missed opportunity," House Democratic Leader Frank Dermody said. "When [Gov. Tom Corbett] pulled the plug on Camelot, it was everybody's best interests that they go out and do a nationwide search" for someone with experience running a major state lottery.
Mr. Dermody is referring to the Corbett administration's quest to hand over management of the lottery to a British company, Camelot Global Services. Mr. Corbett wanted a 20-year contract with Camelot, a bid that would have expanded the lottery in part by allowing keno in the state.
But early in 2013, Attorney General Kathleen Kane rejected the contract, and in December, the company's bid expired without renewal.
Last week, Mr. Dermody and two other House Democrats sent a letter to Mr. Corbett's office, urging a nationwide search for the "crucial" lottery post.
Mr. Lutkewitte "really has no experience in this area," said Mr. Dermody, D-Oakmont.
Mr. Lutkewitte is a frequent contributor to political campaigns, primarily to Republicans, including several small contributions to Mr. Corbett during his gubernatorial and attorney general campaigns.
In response, Jay Pagni, spokesman for Mr. Corbett's office, said Mr. Lutkewitte's service station experience was a plus, because gas stations and convenience stores make up 43 percent of the lottery's more than 9,100 retailers.
"We are confident that Sil's experience, as well as his approach, [will] be an asset to the lottery," Mr. Pagni said.
Mr. Lutkewitte will replace Todd Rucci, who left the post in November to take a job with Lancaster-based PAP Technologies. He had served since September 2011.
David Fillman, executive director of Council 13 of the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees -- which represents 170 lottery employees -- said Mr. Lutkewitte's absence of lottery experience isn't a concern for his union.
"The person he's replacing had a banking background -- didn't have a lottery background, either. And Mr Rucci did a good job." Mr. Fillman said he hopes Mr. Lutkewitte's appointment is the final nail in the coffin for lottery privatization, but the governor's office has not ruled out taking another run at a private management contract. Because the lottery director is not a Cabinet position, the appointment will not require Senate confirmation. Last fiscal year, the lottery brought in $3.7 billion in sales and about $1 billion in net revenues, which go toward programs for senior citizens.
Bill Toland: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-2625.
First Published January 10, 2014 1:04 PM