Getting Rich off the Government Liquor Monopoly

Joe Conti, who once cosponsored legislation to privatize the state liquor store system, keeps finding a way to profit off of the state’s monopoly on wine and spirit sales.

After retiring from the state Senate following the pay raise debacle, then-Governor Ed Rendell appointed him to a six-figure job as Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board.  Who did he replace?  No one. The position was created just for him.

This year, Conti resigned under the cloud of an ethics investigation into allegations that he took gifts from PLCB contractors.  Where did he go next?  He took a job as an “emergency consultant” for, bizarrely, the PLCB.  The only emergency was that Joe Conti needed a job.  As it turns out, he earned $67,000 in six months as a consultant—while collecting a state pension—but such double-dipping is limited.

Now Conti has a new gig—lobbying for the union representing state liquor store workers, otherwise known as the UFCW.  The UFCW recently put a million dollars into anti-privatization ads, paid for with taxpayer-collected union dues, so it’s no shocker they would hire another high-priced lobbyist.  Of course, Conti won’t be doing anything different from his previous job on the state payroll—see his “Alternatives to Privatization” memo as an example on how he violated the PLCB’s supposed neutrality on legislation.

Ladies and gentlemen of Pennsylvania, this is our government liquor monopoly.