An internal investigation by the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission, obtained by The Associated Press via a public records request Wednesday, concluded that Executive Director Steve Marks and five other agency officials had diverted sought-after bourbons, including Pappy Van Winkle’s 23-year-old whiskey, for their personal use.
The officials were paying for the whiskey, which can cost thousands of dollars a bottle, but they had used their knowledge and connections at the commission to obtain them, and consequently deprived members of the public of the spendy booze, the investigation said. And that violated Oregon statutes, including one that prohibits public officials from using confidential information for personal gain, the commission’s investigation said.
|The VanWinkle sisters - Carrie, Chenault & Louise -|
launched Pappy & Co as a new take on the family business
Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek on Wednesday asked the agency’s board of commissioners to remove Marks and the other implicated officials, alleging they “abused their position for personal gain.”
“This behavior is wholly unacceptable. I will not tolerate wrongful violations of our government ethics laws,” Kotek said in her letter to the board of commissioners.
In his responses to questions from the investigator, Marks denied that he had violated Oregon ethics laws and state policy. However, he acknowledged that he had received preferential treatment “to some extent” in obtaining the whiskey as a commission employee. Marks and the other officials said they never resold the whiskeys they obtained.
It better be pretty damn good to cost thousands of dollars a bottle.