- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 27, 2016

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - Oregon Lottery Director Jack Roberts was fired by Gov. Kate Brown on Tuesday over what the governor’s office called “management problems.”

Roberts, a Republican and former gubernatorial candidate, has had the lottery job since 2013.

In a terse letter written by Brown’s chief of staff, Roberts was told that his employment was “terminated effective immediately.”

Kristen Grainger, a Brown spokeswoman, said “management problems” led to Roberts’ removal. She declined to be more specific.

Brown said in a statement: “I am grateful for Jack’s years of service to the Oregon Lottery, but it is time for a leadership change.”

The Associated Press was unable to immediately reach Roberts for comment.

Roberts told Oregon Public Broadcasting that his firing came after he refused the governor’s request to resign, which happened shortly after Roberts had placed his chief operating officer, Roland Iparraguirre, on paid administrative leave.

Roberts said his decision was due to a longstanding dispute between Iparraguirre and a subordinate, Janell Simmons, the lottery’s human resources director.

“I was trying to handle this the right way,” Roberts told The Register Guard.

Roberts said Brown’s office sought the immediate reinstatement of Iparraguirre and then asked Roberts to resign.

When asked about the incident, Brown spokesman Chris Pair said the office wouldn’t comment on personnel issues, The Register Guard reported.

Chris Telfer, one of the Lottery’s five commissioners, declined the Associated Press’ request for comment because lottery officials have been directed to not speak to media. “We’ve been asked not to say anything,” Telfer said. “I just heard about it.”

Roberts is being replaced on an interim basis by Barry Pack, who is currently chief administrative officer at the Department of Administrative Services.

The 63-year-old Roberts has been a long-time figure in Oregon public life. He ran for governor in 2002, losing a four-way Republican primary. He served four years as the director of the Bureau of Labor and Industries.

Roberts was appointed lottery director in 2013 by then-Gov. John Kitzhaber.

Grainger told the AP it’s unclear whether Brown will have a permanent appointment to recommend to the state Senate next month, when the Legislature meets for three days for various hearings. “We are working to move quickly on this,” Grainger said.

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