Northam appoints GOP Sen. Wagner to be deputy lottery director

Northam appoints GOP Sen. Wagner to be deputy lottery director

By Patrick Wilson  | 

Continuing a tradition of lawmakers transitioning into pension-fattening state jobs, Gov. Ralph Northam appointed state Sen. Frank Wagner, R-Virginia Beach — one of four Republican senators who helped Democrats pass Medicaid expansion in 2018 — as deputy director of the Virginia Lottery.

Wagner, who sponsored rate-freeze legislation for Dominion Energy in 2015 and who placed third in a three-way GOP primary for governor in 2017, opted not to run for re-election this year in his Virginia Beach-based district.

He is a former shipyard owner who has served in the legislature since 1991.

Wagner’s salary in the new post is $140,000; he earned $18,000 as a part-time senator plus a $15,000 office allowance that most lawmakers use as income.

“As a former shipyard owner and business leader in the maritime industry, he brings a host of experience on complex business issues and expertise to the conversation about Virginia’s future regarding legal gaming and its possible impact on the Virginia Lottery,” an announcement from the governor’s office said.

Wagner, who chaired the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee, finished behind Ed Gillespie and Corey Stewart in the 2017 GOP primary for governor.

Wagner will work under lottery executive director Kevin Hall, a former Associated Press reporter and former aide to Virginia’s two U.S. senators, Democrats Mark Warner and Tim Kaine.

Northam’s office also announced that Del. Matthew James, D-Portsmouth, has been appointed deputy director of the Department of General Services. James has represented the 80th House District since 2010. His salary goes from $17,640 as a part-time delegate plus a $15,000 office allowance to $140,000.

“As Deputy Director, James will work with the DGS executive management team on the many services the agency provides, from construction and laboratory services, to real estate transactions, fleet operations, surplus property management and procurement, to include vendor development with an emphasis on the participation of small, women-owned, minority-owned and veteran-owned businesses,” said the governor’s office announcement.

James pleaded guilty in Portsmouth last month to driving while intoxicated, and will need a restricted license to drive and an ignition interlock for six months, according to The Associated Press.

Sen. Louise Lucas, D-Portsmouth, said she found out about James’ appointment Thursday evening.

“It all happened so quickly I don’t think anybody saw this coming,” she said. “But I think it’s a good move on the governor’s part. And I’m extremely happy for Matthew.”