State Sen. John Yudichak, an independent from Swoyersville, seems somewhat confused about government transparency. He recently said that he respects the need for transparency regarding operations of a multibillion-dollar state agency while introducing a bill to eliminate it.
His bill would forfeit the public information rights of 13 million Pennsylvanians and cede to a handful of extremely lucky private individuals the right to withhold public information.
Under the bill, anyone who wins $1 million or more in the state lottery would have the option to keep his identity secret. Only the winner’s city and county of residence would be disclosed. Now, the state Open Records Law rightly holds that the identity of lottery winners is public information.
That requirement is not frivolous. Its purpose is to thwart corruption. Disclosing winners’ names is a fundamentally sound method to help ensure that lottery games are on the up-and-up.
Yudichak says he wants to protect big winners from scammers. But the lottery easily could offer winners guidance on how to avoid scams without sacrificing transparency.
“While recognizing the importance of transparency in Pennsylvania Lottery operations, I believe it is equally important to protect our lottery winners’ privacy and protect them from criminals and scam artists ...,” Yudichak declared.
That’s false equivalency. Transparency and secrecy aren’t equal initiatives for an agency that sold $5.3 billion in tickets, cleared $1.3 billion and paid $3.5 billion in prizes during the 2020-2021 fiscal year. Transparency is far more important for Pennsylvanians and should remain in place.
— Scranton Times-Tribune