If one thing has been made clear this year, it’s that the TABC is a bit of a mess at the moment. Way back in March, the Texas Tribune did some great reporting that revealed a number of problems to the public, such as lavish spending on out-of-state conferences by upper management.
The TABC was also alleged to have tried to put Houston-based Spec’s, the state’s largest liquor retailer, out of business. A single minor infraction was inflated into a three-year investigation that sought to cancel permits for all 164 Spec’s stores or fine the company more than $700 million. After being hauled in front of the state legislature to account for this and other charges, heads started to roll.
As of mid-July, seven top TABC officials have departed, including: Executive Director Sherry Cook, Commissioner Steven Weinberg, General Counsel Emily Helm, Chief of Enforcement Earl Pearson, Head of Internal Affairs Andy Peña, and Licensing Director Amy Harrison. The seventh person to leave was Acting Executive Director Ed Swedberg, who had only occupied the post for a few weeks. He turned in his resignation after refusing to take part in firing Harrison.
The TABC commissioners have now selected a new executive director, Adrian Bentley Nettles, to head the agency. Nettles is a decorated military officer who has a law practice in Bryan. All of us in the industry certainly wish him the best of luck getting the TABC turned around!