RALEIGH – State Auditor Beth Wood’s office performed an extensive audit on the State’s ABC Commission, concluding that it wasted close to $14 million via sloppy contracts and oversight. Michael Herring, the ABC administrator who is also on the commission, has resigned in a huff after pushing back against the audit conclusions, calling them “fictitious.” He also claimed Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration left him and the commission hung out to dry.
So what did the audit say?
“The audit said the commission wasted some $14 million by allowing its distribution contract with a private vendor to balloon over 13 years. Wood’s office said the commission failed to monitor the contract and repeatedly allowed price increases above what the contract itself allowed. The audit also questioned the need for a 200,000-square-foot warehouse in Clayton that auditors found largely empty last November and December.”
Herring acknowledged faults in the contract and its enforcement, saying it could have been better, but disputed the amount of ‘wasted’ money. He also asserted the big warehouse in Johnston County was purchased with growth in mind and the reason it was so empty was that the auditors visited just before the holidays when most product had been shipped to the store.
The latter explanation makes sense. The fact that Democrat Beth Woods led another overly presumptuous audit makes sense. The fact that Cooper ran away from any association with scandal, even if Herring deserved some defending, makes sense.
You know what makes the most sense, though? That a state monopoly for liquor distribution and sales is sloppy, inefficient, unaccountable, and entirely unnecessary. And that’s one of the ‘most efficient’ systems in the nation!
“The vendor on that contract, LB&B Associates, has also criticized the audit, saying North Carolina’s government liquor monopoly has some of the lowest costs in the country for liquor transport and storage.”
The whole enterprise is based on the false premise that we citizens need Big Government to regulate the business of Jim Beam and Jack Daniels.
Percy Flowers could most certainly run a better operation for liquor distribution and storage in the Old North State and beyond, but then the State government wouldn’t get the cut (and the control) it thinks it deserves.
It is long past time to not only reform the ABC system in North Carolina, but abolish it altogether for reasons that should have been obvious before this audit report came about.
You find more details about the audit and responses from Wood and Herring here.