So how do some alcohol vendors become wine winners and others liquor losers under a state-run monopoly? Well, a scathing new report by the Inspector General’s Office, broken this morning by Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Angela Couloumbis, alleges three major Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board executives including “CEO” Joe Conti and board member PJ Stapleton III were unethically on the give and take.
Accepting gifts and favors from vendors and other businesses with an interest in wine and spirits, the report found the Lords of Liquor living lavishly, snapping up free alcohol, securing jobs for relatives and one even getting an exclusive golf trip replete with employees sent to carry his golf bag.
Wine Shrines, cronyism, luxuries on the taxpayer dime a crime? Possibly. As the state Ethics Act prohibits officials from using their positions to benefit themselves or their families, this could spell more trouble for the Princes of Pinot. Moreover, state liquor law makes it a felony for LCB employees and their relatives to receive gifts from vendors with penalties including firing and possible prosecution.
Governor, legislators, will you let this stand? Until we know more, stay thirsty, my comrades.