By Christopher McCollum
Government officials in North Carolina have decried the actions of local alcohol board administrators for living in a ‘Culture of Entitlement,’ and using public funds for lavish get-aways.
In what could be compared to the halcyon days of Frank Costello and the Teamster Unions, or just plain old government corruption, it has been revealed that the local administrators of the alcohol boards seem to be pocketing enormous sums of money generated from alcohol taxes, and none of it was visible on the State level. North Carolina is the only state in the country in which local ABC boards sell directly to the customers on a local level, and the State Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission has very little authority to exercise over them, since they are appointed and run by the county in which they reside.
In conjunction with governor Bev Perdue, the Control Commission is acting quickly, using their limited powers to reign in the local administrators potential corruption by closing down a law that allowed them to receive modest gifts from liquor companies. This was done in reaction to revelations that liquor companies were footing the bill for extravagant $300 lunches at the Charlotte Ritz Carlton, as well as the bill for a party that included $1,000 of 11 year old Dom Perignon Champagne.
Much of the hype in Raleigh has been attributed to the recent information that a father and son administrator tandem in Wilmington have been drawing over $400,000 a year in salary and bonuses, in addition to using tax payer money to fly to and stay in Arizona resorts that cost $300 a night, while renting a $200 a day luxury car.
Of the $700M worth of liquor sold last year, it generated $259M in taxes that went to state and local governments. $113M went to running the local stores, leaving the rather large sum of $146M to fund the Culture of Entitlement that is said to be enjoyed by these local administrators. Commissioner Chairman Jon Williams had this to say about it: ”Every dollar that comes into the ABC system in this state is a dollar that belongs to the public … the public’s money is not what is left over at the end. It is public the moment it is handed over the counter.”
Time will tell how extensive this use of taxpayer money is, as investigations are pending. Let’s hope that this isn’t a large scale case of alcohol funding corruption.