Jim Brummett leaned forward in his chair in a ballroom at the Pasco Red Lion on Friday and watched members of the state Lottery Commission with hawklike attention.
As commissioners heard presentations about ticket sales and marketing efforts, Brummett whispered facts and figures like the number of places in the state where someone can buy a lottery ticket -- almost 4,000 -- and pointed out key lottery officials, such as agency director Bill Hanson.
Brummett, of Puyallup, has been watch-dogging Washington's Lottery for about seven years, ever since the first time he thought a lottery promotion was misleading.
"I am the only one from the public I have ever seen speak at a commission meeting," he told the Herald. "I'm the only one watching what they do."
A retired Coast Guard chief warrant officer, he seldom has missed a lottery commission meeting, even in the days when the commission met in various locations around the state.
These days, they mostly meet in Olympia because of budget cuts, but with two commissioners hailing from Eastern Washington -- including Valoria Loveland of Pasco -- the commission hit the road Thursday to have a public meeting in the Tri-Cities.
Brummett made the trek from Puyallup to warn the commission that he is planning a possible lawsuit about a recent promotion with Safeway stores in which people who bought lottery tickets were told they had a chance to win a $50 Safeway gift card.
Brummett's issue is that he believes advertising materials didn't say there would be a limit of 500 gift cards for the promotion, but rather advertised that anyone who bought a ticket between certain dates stood a chance of winning.
The lottery agency today is launching a similar promotion with Fred Meyer stores in which about 800 $50 gift cards will be awarded for every 15th lottery purchase in the company's stores.
Brummett told the commission Friday that he learned through a publicrecords request that the lottery computers had been set up to award a gift card for every 55th lottery purchase, and the last of the 500 was given out March 30.
But the promotion was advertised to last through April 3, and he argued that thousands of people bought lottery tickets in the days after the last gift cardwas awarded still believing they could win.
"To me it was fraud," Brummett said. "It was negligent misrepresentation according to the law. ... You made an error and deprived me and thousands of other people."
Brummett filed a tort claim with the agency -- that follows on the heels of six others he filed that ultimately were denied by the Attorney General's Office.
Hanson said he is looking into the terms of the promotion, and if a mistake was made, Washington's Lottery will find a way to remedy the problem.
"We're already looking at it to see if what Mr. Brummett says is true," Hanson told the Herald. "He brings numerous things to our attention. We look into every one."
Brummett said that over the years he has been able to convince the lottery agency to change some practices because of his complaints.
"I have seen things. I have helped," he said.
And he said he'll keep at it as long as he thinks he can make a difference.
"When they do something like this and there's thousands (affected), I'm representing the thousands," he said.
He also will keep up his 30-year habit of playing lottery games, even though he doesn't often win. He described himself as a core player who spends about $144 per month on tickets.
"I'm single. I'm retired. I have the resources to play," Brummett said. "I don't smoke and I don't drink. This is my vice."