RICHMOND, DEC. 4 -- Gov. Gerald L. Baliles, saying he wants the state to run its newborn lottery "in a manner that is beyond reproach," named five prominent Virginians and a respected government lawyer today to oversee the games' operation.
"My primary objective is to see that the Virginia lottery is administered in the Virginia tradition: honestly, efficiently and fairly," Baliles said as he announced the appointment of a former congressman, the state Senate's senior member, a college president, a former U.S. Secret Service director and a bank executive to staggered terms on the five-member State Lottery Board.
The governor also named Kenneth W. Thorson, 46, a senior assistant state attorney general in charge of that office's tax section, to the $74,886-a-year post of lottery director. Thorson and the board members are expected to be easily confirmed by the General Assembly when it convenes next month.
Baliles' appointments, announced at a news conference here, are six of the most politically sensitive of the governor's four-year term. In addition to creating a whole new agency to handle the multimillion-dollar enterprise of state-sponsored gambling, Thorson and the board are expected to do much to set the tone of the lottery by the time the first "instant" game starts in the spring.
Virginia voters decisively approved the state-run lottery in the November election. The law outlining the duties of the lottery board and director, as well as sharply restricting lottery advertising, was enacted by the legislature this year.
"To have the lottery mean anything, people are going to have to know what the rules are and how to play the game," said board appointee H. Stuart Knight of Falls Church, a 66-year-old former Secret Service director. But, he added, the advertising can be done "without hoopla and in a dignified manner."
"We're going to avoid the spiel of the sideshow barker," Knight said.
Fellow board member William F. Parkerson Jr., 67, a Democratic state senator from suburban Richmond who was defeated for reelection last month, said he would work to ensure that "criminal elements don't come into this state by virtue of the lottery process." Parkerson, like Baliles, personally opposed the creation of a lottery.
Other board members are G. William Whitehurst of Norfolk, a Republican who served 18 years in the House of Representatives; Cynthia Haldenby Tyson, the president of Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, and Henry Thompson Tucker of Richmond, a senior vice president of Crestar Bank and the vice rector of the College of William and Mary.
Thorson, whose low-key style and lawyerly methods have drawn praise from colleagues in state government, said the prospect of directing the lottery agency was "very scary" but also "exciting." His office, Thorson predicted, "will be under a microscope" of public scrutiny for months to come.
Thorson also said he accepted the legislature's prohibition on advertising "for the primary purpose of inducing persons to participate in the lottery." Thorson characterized that language as a "very subjective judgment."
Some legislators are expected to try to loosen the restriction in the upcoming session of the General Assembly.