A senior official from the Oregon Liquor and Marijuana Control Agency resigned this weekafter an internal investigation found that he and other top agency officials diverted rare bottles of bourbon from public supply so they could be purchased for personal use.
“Governor (Tina) Kotek has requested that I resign as Executive Director of the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission,” Steve Marks, Executive Director of the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission, wrote in a resignation letter on Monday. “Because I believe the governor has the right to have her own management team, I will honor that request. Accordingly, I resign at 5 pm on February 15, 2023.”
An internal agency investigation found that at least six OLCC officials abused their position to personally access the wanted bottles.
a publicly released research summary quoted a source who “wanted to reiterate how pervasive this practice is and what their position requires, purchasing products for individuals – which includes OLCC officials and legislators.”
The investigation started when a departing employee conveyed his concerns to agency staff last Apriltelling colleagues that it was common practice at a state warehouse that held liquor inventory to reserve certain products and then send them to stores for pickup.
The revelation triggered an internal investigation.
“Several agency executive managers were interviewed regarding the subsequent investigation into this matter and some have implicated Executive Director Marks in tacitly approving of their actions and have also been involved in the practice,” wrote Rich Evans, Director of OLCC’s Licensing and Compliance Division, in a December memo, Wilammette week reports.
Mr. Marks also admitted to investigators that he would “divert stored beverages for your personal use.”
The Oregonian/Oregon Live first reported the findings of the investigation.
Marks and others were particularly eager to obtain bottles of Pappy Van Winkle bourbon, a highly prized Kentucky brand that can fetch thousands of dollars.
“This behavior is totally unacceptable,” said Oregon Governor Kotek wrote in a statement following the conclusions of the investigation. “I will not tolerate unfair violations of our government ethics laws.”
The Oregon attorney general’s office has launched a criminal investigation into the state liquor agency’s practices, and a civil investigation may follow, which New York Times reports.