Gov. Kate Brown Removes Jack Roberts As Director of the Oregon Lottery

Roberts says he was fired after placing subordinate on leave. "If [Brown's] not happy, I don't serve."

Jack Roberts is out as executive director of the Oregon Lottery.

"He was terminated today," says Gov. Kate Brown's spokeswoman, Kristen Grainger. "There were management problems at the agency and the governor is seeking to go in a new leadership direction."

Roberts has served in the position since October 2013, when he was appointed by former Gov. John Kitzhaber.

A former Lane County commissioner and state labor commissioner from 1995 to 2003, Roberts, a lawyer, is one of the last Republicans to win state-wide office in Oregon. He won the office as a Republican in 1994, then convinced lawmakers to make the position non-partisan, which it remains today.

The Oregon Lottery is the state's second largest source of revenue after income taxes although income from the games has plateaued at about $1.1 billion in recent years.

courtesy Oregon Lottery (courtesy Oregon Lottery)

The lottery director reports to a five-member commission, each of whom is also appointed by the governor.

Brown named Barry Pack, currently the deputy chief operation officer of the Department of Administrative Services and former Brown's deputy secretary of state, to succeed Roberts on an interim basis.

Brown issued the following statement this afternoon:

"I am grateful for Jack's years of service to the Oregon Lottery, but it is time for a leadership change," Brown said. "As we embark on the search for a successor, Barry will bring the skills and experience necessary to step easily into this role."

Updated with comments from Roberts at 5:50 pm:

Roberts says Brown's decision caught him off guard. He says he recently placed his deputy, Roland Iparraguirre, on paid administrative leave, after a dispute between Iparraguirre and the Lottery's human resources director, a subordinate of Iparraguirre's.

The dispute was sufficiently messy that Roberts decided to hire former Oregon Supreme Court Justice Paul de Muniz to perform an outside evaluation.

But before that could happen, Roberts says the governor's office let him know Brown was unhappy with and summoned him for a meeting this morning with Brown's chief of staff, Kristen Leonard.

At that meeting, Roberts says, he was asked to resign from his $180,000 post.

"I said 'will you fire me if I don't?'" Roberts recalls. He says he was told that was indeed what would happen. "I said 'go ahead and fire me, then,'" Roberts says, "because I don't think the public needs an excuse like 'he wanted to spend more time with his family."

Roberts says he's "disappointed" but feels surviving two years and five months under Kitzhaber and Brown, both Democrats, is longer than he might have expected to last in a job he says he never sought.

"I always wondered why Kitzhaber hired me," Roberts says. "I'll miss the Lottery and the people who work there but I told them in an email, 'this is life.' When you go to work in the public sector at that level, you serve at the governor's pleasure. And if she's not pleased, I don't serve."

Roberts was an at will employee and says he does not expect severance pay.

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