New policy restricts Oregon Liquor commission employees from state liquor supply

The Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission oversight board approved a policy Thursday that restricts agency employees from access to the state liquor supply.
Published: May. 18, 2023 at 5:41 PM PDT|Updated: May. 19, 2023 at 5:30 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - Months after a scandal in the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission, the oversight board approved a policy Thursday that restricts agency employees from access to the state supply of rare and hard-to-find liquor products.

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The OLCC Board of Commissioners is also considering an additional 50-cent surcharge on bottles of liquor.

The OLCC Board of Commissioners approved a new policy that restricts access to the state liquor supply, especially to the “safety supply.” That supply will now be under consistent audits to make sure employees are not dipping liquor.

Liquor stores and their customers said the policy is long overdue. Many wish it was in place before the scandal broke to keep corruption out of the OLCCC.

RELATED: Criminal investigation launched into alleged ethics violations by OLCC staff

In February, the then-executive director of the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission, Steve Marks, and five other agency officials were found to have diverted sought-after bourbons, including Pappy Van Winkle’s 23-year-old whiskey, for their own use.

An investigation found that although the officials were paying for the whiskey, which can cost hundreds of dollars a bottle, they were able to obtain them thanks to their connections and inside knowledge at the commission. As a result, the public was denied access to the pricy liquor and Marks and the other officials eventually resigned.

At the Thursday commissioner meeting, one OLCC employee, who presented the policy to board members said employees will have to go to the store like any other member of the public.

“Or go on the Oregon Liquor search,” they said. “There will be no influencing of getting those bottles once that plan is set.”

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Following the investigation, the commissioners have begun to implement new policies for OLCC employees.

The first specifies that employees are not allowed to set aside liquor for their own purchase. Additional policies will address how products could be provided to non-profits and charities, and how rare and hard-to-find products should be sold to consumers once they reach retailers, according to the commissioners.

On Thursday, the board also heard public testimony from people representing both public health and hospitality industries on a proposal to increase the per-bottle cost of liquor by 50 cents.