PR firm sues ad firm over lost lottery deal

MINNEAPOLIS: A promotions and PR firm that until recently worked for the Minnesota State Lottery is suing after it was dismissed by that government agency.

MINNEAPOLIS: A promotions and PR firm that until recently worked for the Minnesota State Lottery is suing after it was dismissed by that government agency.

Rather than target the lottery, however, the firm is suing local ad agency The Foley Group, through which work for the lottery had been funneled to it.

St. Paul-based Media Rare filed suit last month seeking unspecified damages exceeding $50,000. Its assignment had been slated to run through 2006.

Media Rare was dismissed by the lottery's acting director, Michael Vekich, in February. The previous lottery director, George Andersen, committed suicide in late January as state auditors were looking into how the lottery awarded contracts.

A state auditor's report in February questioned the value of promotional work that Media Rare had done for the lottery, and the acting director canceled the agency's contract shortly after that report was issued.

The state agency now has no outside PR firm, said Debbie Hoffman, the lottery's PR manager. Hoffman would not comment on the suit itself because it was filed against the ad agency and not the lottery.

Jeff Denney, president of Media Rare, also would not comment on the lawsuit. He said only his attorney could comment but would not provide his or her name.

John Foley, president of the ad agency, could not be reached for comment, but recently told the Minneapolis Star Tribune, "I would like to go on the record as saying I'm baffled."

Andersen, who had been the Minnesota lottery's only director in its 14 years, had talked to state auditors the day before he died.

The report from the state's legislative auditor suggested reviewing the lottery's ties with Media Rare, noting the work had never been put out for competitive bidding. Media Rare had been started by a friend of Andersen who sold the firm four years ago.

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