OLYMPIA, Wash. — The deputy director of Washington’s Lottery has been ousted following an outside investigation into ethics complaints that found he and other lottery employees accepted drinks and food from a vendor who had a contract with the agency, and that several employees likely got free hotel rooms during a work trip that coincided with the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas.
An agency spokeswoman confirmed Friday that Jim Warick had been fired on Wednesday. In a written statement, Lottery Director Marcus Glasper said the behaviors detailed by the report, which was obtained by The Associated Press through a public records request, “do not reflect our own high standards.”
A phone message left Friday with Warick was not immediately returned.
The 26-page report, written by Trish Murphy of Northwest Workplace Law PLLC, details several events hosted by International Game Technology (IGT), which supports the Lottery’s gaming systems, which drew ethical concerns.
The ethics report came as a result of issues that were previously raised with the investigator during a hostile workplace investigation into former Lottery Director Bill Hanson. That report found that Hanson had treated female employees differently than their male counterparts, calling them “criers” and excluding them from key discussions.
Hanson resigned last fall, and Glasper was appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee to replace him.
Both state law and the Lottery’s own code of ethics prohibit using their positions to secure special privileges or to accept most gifts. Lottery employees fall under a section of state ethics law that subjects them to greater restrictions than other state employees, and under an ethics advisory opinion, those employees may not accept food when a vendor sponsors a presentation.
Among the events detailed by Murphy is an August 2016 reception hosted by IGT. In an interview conducted by Murphy, Warick said he did not know who paid for the event.
Jana Jones, the agency’s director of legal services, told Murphy that she had specifically advised against Lottery participating in the event. The report quotes her as telling former director Hanson and Warick “that we cannot accept food and/or beverages from our contractor and that employees accepting drink and food from the vendor would violate the Ethics Act.”
An invitation sent to lottery employees for the event was not sent to Jones, the report notes, and no one discussed the event with her again.
Murphy said that in an interview with Warick, he acknowledged the practice of accepting food and drinks from vendors and said it was an individual choice that was “at my own risk.” The report also says he told Murphy that he had told employees that he had been told that drinks and appetizers were allowed to be accepted.
Another event in Eastern Washington detailed by the report was described by one person interviewed by Murphy as a “don’t ask don’t tell kind of thing” when it came to who had paid for the appetizers and drinks. A trip to Austin by eight Lottery employees in March 2016 to visit IGT facilities also drew scrutiny. Murphy notes that none of the travel records for the trip name the hotel, how much it cost or who was paying for it. Murphy wrote that while she was unable to definitively establish the significance of the South by Southwest music festival to the timing of the trip, she noted that while three employees interviewed all denied attending shows — one of whom stated they didn’t even know it was occurring — emails she obtained “made clear that they all knew in advance and plans were being made.”
The report notes that it was unclear what the listed employees — who did not include Jim Warick, but did include his brother Randy Warick, who was assistant director of marketing — actually did on the trip “although some of the emails had content that seemed unusually effusive for a regular work trip” including one that notes “we will be well taken care of while we are there!” and another that said “Thanks again … it was epic!”
Murphy’s report also notes Randy Warick’s participation in other events, including a private Nike campus tour in Beaverton, Oregon, where he received a free t-shirt in 2016 and a 2015 music festival in Las Vegas where he said he paid his own way. Murphy noted that while Warick said he did not get credentials or go backstage, multiple people had told her they saw Facebook pictures and postings that indicated he was backstage. She also details emails between employees at IHeartMedia, which sponsored the music festival, confirming Randy Warick’s tickets and credentials.
When shown the email chain, Murphy said Randy Warick denied having anything other than regular tickets.
“When asked why there would be any need to RSVP, reference ‘credentials,’ have an itinerary and a profile, etc. when he already had tickets, he responded: “They wanted to pay my airfare.”” Murphy wrote. “It was unclear how that response would explain anything in the email correspondence.”
A lottery spokeswoman says that in response to the report, Randy Warick was moved to another position in the agency with less responsibility. In addition, all out-of-state travel must be now approved by the director, and in his written statement, Glasper that improvements have been made to internal processes, “including establishing a schedule of required ethics training for the entire staff.”