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Wyoming Lottery Corp. releases salary of CEO but still refuses to disclose other salaries

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CASPER, Wyoming — The Wyoming Lottery Corp. has released the salary of CEO Jon Clontz after initially declining to do so, but still refuses to disclose how much it pays other employees.

WyoLotto Board Chairman Brian Gamroth sent the Casper Star-Tribune Clontz's salary on Friday, a month after the newspaper had requested it and at a time when the lottery and newspaper have clashed over what salary details should be available to the public.

Clontz earns $181,500 a year as chief executive of the Wyoming Lottery Corp. He's received a 10 percent raise since 2013, when he was hired at $165,000 a year.

Lotteries in the states that surround Wyoming are state agencies and their top administrators earn an annual salary ranging from $81,147 earned by the South Dakota Lottery director to $136,656 earned by Colorado Lottery director. The CEO of the Georgia lottery, which is quasi-government entity set up similar to the Wyoming Lottery, is paid $300,000.

The Star-Tribune requested the compensation for all Wyoming Lottery executives and board members on April 22. The lottery is adamant that the other compensation requested must remain secret for competitive purposes.

WyoLotto began selling tickets Aug. 24. After a bank loan is paid off, net proceeds are to be distributed to cities, towns and counties, along with an education fund.

Gamroth, the lottery board chairman, noted that state law allows board members to earn the same salaries as Wyoming legislators. Legislators earn $150 a day.

Board members have quarterly meetings and also serve on committees. Each board member's salary varies, he said.

Gamroth stood by the lottery's decision to not release all the compensation the Star-Tribune had requested.

"We've got an internal policy in place that we don't release employees' salaries," he told the paper (http://bit.ly/1FM2JTx).

In seeking compensation information, the newspaper has asserted WyoLotto is a quasi-governmental agency because the 2013 law that created the lottery states the governor appoints the board and the lottery must submit quarterly reports to the governor, Wyoming Legislature and the Wyoming Department of Audit. The newspaper also found in meeting minutes that Mike Kahler, a lawyer with the Wyoming Attorney General's Office, has attended some board meetings.

Lottery officials argue it is a private company, since its board obtained a bank loan for start-up costs and did not receive any public money.

Clontz has released the entire amount of salaries and wages paid by the organization: $537,000 between July 31 and March 31, the three quarters when the lottery was operating with a full staff.

Wyoming media attorney Bruce Moats, who has previously represented the Star-Tribune in open records and open meetings cases, said he believes the lottery is a hybrid of a public and private organization.

When there is a dispute over whether records should be open, courts resolve it in favor of openness, Moats said.


Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, http://www.trib.com

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