WV lottery director still runs law firm, despite state law

W.Va. Lottery Director Alan Larrick

The law is clear — the lottery director cannot engage in another profession while running the operation, but questions remain as to if that’s happened with Alan Larrick.

West Virginia code states the lottery director must serve on a full time basis, may not be engaged in any other profession, and receives $92,500 annually for the work.

In a phone interview, Larrick, who has been running the lottery since January, would not directly answer whether he still works at Larrick Law Offices. However, he said he has hired a new attorney at the firm to take over some, though not all, of the work.

“I still own my law practice, if that’s what you’re saying, yes,” he said. “But I’ve hired someone, as I said I was going to. Very nice young man, Justin Lester. My staff likes him, he’s been a big help, helping me a lot, assisting me with management, that kind of thing.”

Larrick declined to answer multiple questions regarding the extent he is continuing to work at the firm.

Patrick Clark, Larrick’s compliance attorney, declined to comment for this report and referred inquiries to Randy Burnside, public relations manager for the lottery. In a written statement, Burnside partially acknowledged Larrick working two jobs.

“Director Larrick has hired an attorney to help run his real estate law practice while he serves as lottery director,” Burnside said. “He is dedicated to his job as lottery director and he has impressed many of us at the lottery with how quickly he has gotten up to speed on lottery operations and the issues we face. He is constantly on call and accessible for any lottery related matters or issues that may arise 24/7 and he responds appropriately.”

Burnside declined to comment on whether hiring an attorney puts Larrick into compliance with the law.

Larrick is still an active member of the West Virginia State Bar.

Though the West Virginia code requires Larrick to work full time, analysis of his travel records, obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, show between his April 9 confirmation and July 20, he had a habit of coming and going from the office in the middle of the day. Specifically, the records show repeated instances of traveling to and from Beckley.

Gov. Jim Justice appointed Larrick in January. Months into his tenure, the state Senate Confirmations Committee discussed in a public hearing how his continuing work for the firm could be in violation of the law. Regardless, they confirmed him April 9 after reaching an agreement he would hire another attorney at the firm.

Larrick wrote an undated letter to Justice on his law office’s letterhead, stating if he is confirmed as director, he will engage the services of an attorney to manage the operation of his legal practice. Below the letter sits a handwritten contract between he and the governor’s chief of staff, Nick Casey, stating he has 90 days to do so or he will be terminated.

Eighty-eight days after Casey and Larrick signed their contract, in a letter dated June 6 and addressed to no one in particular, Justin Lester wrote that Larrick Law Office has hired him as a “responsible attorney to help manage the practice” and comply with Larrick’s commitment to Justice.

Days after Lester wrote his letter, Richie Heath, counsel to the Senate president, emailed Casey to follow up and make sure Larrick hired an attorney to take over the office “so as to comply with the statutory requirements for the director of lottery.” He said he did so because committee members had asked him the same question, according to emails discloses in a separate FOIA request.

When asked about the potential lack of compliance, Grant Herring, Justice’s spokesman, said July 24 that Larrick has hired a new attorney for his Beckley firm. He said he does not know whether Larrick still works there.

Casey, a former attorney, said he trusts Larrick’s assessment that the confirmation puts him into compliance, regardless of Larrick’s continuing legal work.

“My understanding was that Alan did everything he’s supposed to do to be in compliance with whatever the ethics or whatever the Senate wanted,” he said. “To me, if Alan says it covers it, I certainly would find that satisfactory.”

Casey would not comment on whether Larrick has stepped away from the firm.

“I don’t know as a matter of fact what he’s doing in Beckley or otherwise,” he said. “I’m not going to speculate on something I don’t know about.”

The Senate Confirmations Committee unanimously confirmed Larrick in full knowledge of his ongoing work at the law firm.

When pressed on his midday trips to Beckley and his work at the law firm, Larrick pointed to his confirmation.

“I was vetted by the Senate, I testified before them, you can review my testimony there,” he said. “I’ve made my statement, I’ve been confirmed by the Senate, that’s about the only thing I can tell you.”

Though an April Gazette-Mail report detailed the Senate’s confirmation of Larrick, despite his second job, it did not appear to end any good standing between Larrick and the Justice administration. In July, Justice appointed Renee Larrick, Alan Larrick’s wife, to one of three seats on the state Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities and approves rates for West Virginians.

Reach Jake Zuckerman at jake.zuckerman@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-4814 or follow @jake_zuckerman on Twitter.

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