House Speaker Christopher Rants has no plans to meet with a Lottery Board member who says he’s “personally insulted” that Rants hasn’t spoken to him about the TouchPlay controversy. “I don’t always consult with members of various commissions,” Rants says. “I stand by what I said last week.” Timothy Clausen, who lives about a mile away from Rants in Sioux City, wrote a letter on Friday accusing Rants of spreading “blatantly false” information about the legality of the TouchPlay machines.
“Mr. Clausen and I obviously have a disagreement,” Rants says. “Disagreements happen often in this business.” Rants has accused Lottery president Ed Stanek of trying to pull a fast one on legislators by sneaking the TouchPlay machines into the marketplace, and last week Rants said he’d lost confidence in Stanek’s leadership of the Lottery.
But Monday, Rants seemed to suggest it’s now time to stop the finger pointing.
“What’s important is where we go from here. We seem to be spending a lot of time talking about how we got to this point. But what I think Iowans are more interested in is where are we going in the future?” Rants says. “Do we really want to look like you’re landing in Las Vegas when you land into the Sioux City airport? I think not.”
House Republicans released their sketch of next year’s state budget on Monday, and it does not include the estimated 30 million dollars in revenue from the Lottery’s TouchPlay machines. Rants cautions that is not a signal the House will vote to yank the machines. Instead, he says the budget plan is based on the estimate of state tax revenues that was drawn up in December by a three-member panel of state financial experts, and that group did not include TouchPlay revenue in their overall estimate.