Just in time for the coming debate about privatizing Pennsylvania’s antiquated state store system, another former PLCB official has been accused of violating state ethics laws. As noted by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Timothy Fringer makes the fifth former LCB official to have allegedly broken the law:
"A former Liquor Control Board official illegally wined, dined and entertained in strip clubs and pro sports events as part of a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ culture pervading the agency, according to an order issued Friday by the State Ethics Commission…Investigators said Fringer ‘routinely accepted’ meals, tickets, hotel stays and other gifts from LCB vendors even though he knew he was prohibited from taking anything of value from those doing business with his agency."
If you are curious about the kinds of gifts the other PLCB officials have accepted, the PA Independent put together a top ten list.
These examples of corruption should not surprise anyone. The PLCB determines whether a particular product is available for purchase for an enormous market. Vendors have an incentive to wine and dine members of the LCB because the LCB members have the power of life or death over a brand in some cases. As the saying goes, power corrupts….
Until the free market decides what products are available in the state, the danger of corruption exists and violations of the state’s ethics laws will continue to pile up.