Restoring My Rights
by Leaving a State Job
By Wade Fulmer
After almost eleven years with the SC state lottery I am leaving my state
job. I believe that my rights to participate in our democracy are sacrificed for
and are sacred. They must not be denied by the politics of bureaucracy or
Initially there was no policy of denial of staff level workers to our
rights of democracy. Policies excluded only agency executives and commissioners
positions as they deal with or are appointed by politicians.
In the fall of 2004 nearing the election, the department's director sent a
memorandum via HR to all regarding political participation. "While I think it is
in the best interest of the Education Lottery for its employees to refrain from
partisan political activities, it would be inappropriate for SCEL to suggest
that a person cannot exercise his or her constitutional right to participate in
our democratic process". Two years later, in March, as a new election season
began, the director sent the same memo to all employees.
However, on February 9, 2009, prior to the director's April acceptance of a
lottery position in Arkansas, an employee manual was revised to include the
section "Non-Partisan Political Operation". The manual was presented in small
groups. No presenter mentioned the extensive restraints on all employees.
Employees would be fired if they filed for elective office or if a petition
effort on their behalf was initiated; one may not serve as an employee, officer,
or delegate to a political party at any level; nor serve on a campaign or
committee to further the campaign of or to seek the defeat of a candidate, nor
allow one's name to be used to assist or defeat a candidate; nor host or sponsor
a fund-raising event for a candidate; nor coordinate political activities on
behalf of an elected official, his staff, or a political party.
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In 2009, a board member was then named interim director. After meeting with
me, he emailed that he had spoken with HR and Legal and the non-partisan policy
would be an"ongoing conversation".
In September, a former board member was named director. A small board
"committee" acted quickly though there were managers who had been with the
lottery since 2001.
After three years there has been no communication and correction to allow
workers to fully participate in America's democratic process. Yet, the employee manual
was dated as revised in March, 2011.
Eight more South Carolina guardsmen have been killed or wounded in June,
2012, serving for our freedoms and our rights of democracy -- while also
recently, the lottery cruised Lake Murray, 4% pay increases were announced
before a state budget was yet to be passed, staff were told that the agency has
known since 2009 of increased video poker and other gaming that deny education
revenue, there would be less staff if sales are not maintained, and that
employees are not to talk about Arkansas lottery issues.
What must workers, families, our military in need of livelihoods and care
do to be allowed our rights of participation in democracy? We must demand and
utilize those rights now. The halls, sessions, politics and corridors of shame
must end and true representation begin for the needs and for the rights of the
people. Isn't it time?