Treasurer Pushes For Review Of State's Alcohol Commission

By Sarah Birnbaum

Jul. 19, 2011

BOSTON — Massachusetts treasurer Steve Grossman is asking the State Inspector General to conduct a review of the state's Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission.

Grossman says the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, which operates within his department, has run up millions of dollars in lawsuits over the past decade.

“I thought it was important in the wake of a lot of challenging issues that state governement is facing — probation department scandal, and this series of settlements — I thought it was important that we work very hard to rebuild and to reinforce our credibility as an agency that has used best practices throughout," Grossman said.

In a 2009 case, the liquor commission said it denied a 47-year-old veteran a job because the two available slots had to go to relatives of lawmakers or else the legislature wouldn’t fund the positions.

In a pending case, an alcohol inspector allegedly granted a liquor license to an ex-convict in exchange for a $3,000 bribe.

The commission has final approval over all liquor licenses granted by municipal liquor licensing boards.

Some critics want it abolished. They say it's an unneeded bureaucracy whose real purpose is to generate political donations.

Last year, even Treasurer Grossman says he solicited campaign contributions for the Democratic Party from executives of liquor distributors.

But Grossman says the commission provides necessary oversight. And he says he doesn’t give the alcoholic beverages industry any special treatment.

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