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Privacy Issues Arise For Lottery Winners

The next big winner of the state lottery could be - drum roll please - none of your business. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer reports.

Rep. John Kavanagh said he was unaware that lottery winners cannot keep their names secret until a Fountain Hills constituent won one-half of the $558 million Powerball jackpot in November. His legislation would allow those people to remain confidential.

Kavanagh says, "It's going to subject them to perhaps a lifetime of annoyance and harrassment by being hit up by friends, relatives, strangers and charities for donations."

Kavanagh, who said he's never spoken to the winner, said such public exposure also can lead to things like someone's children being kidnapped. But David Bodney, attorney for The ARizona Republic complained this kind of secrecy is fertile ground for fraud, allowing prizes to be awarded to friends and relatives. That got the attention of Rep. Tom Forese who says, "even though the folks that run the lottery right now are good people, I've had the chance to visit with them and I believe that they're honorable people, down the road, when we're no longer here. I have some concern with government being involved with anything that does not have complete transparency."

Bodney argued there's a simple solution for anyone who does not want public attention: Don't play the lottery. But his argument did not carry and the House Government Committee approved Kavanagh's legislation Tuesday on a 7-2 vote.