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Audit: Michigan Liquor Control loses 62,294 bottles of liquor

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(The Center Square) – State Rep. Tom Kunse wants reform within the Michigan Liquor Control Commission after an audit found more than 62,000 liquor bottles were missing.

The audit from the Office of the Auditor General marked three “material conditions” – the most severe rating – for the group composed of five unelected governor appointees that oversee liquor distribution through authorized agents using 11 state-owned warehouses.

The audit found the agency “lacked key controls” and inventory oversight, which at one point resulted in a negative inventory of nearly 900,000 bottles.

The value of the missing bottles totaled nearly $1 million, more than 20% of its total inventory. The MLCC could not provide any information about the missing supply and refunded all vendors for the missing bottles.

“I’m sorry, but how is it even possible that the MLCC could be so mismanaged that 62,000 bottles of anything could just go missing?” Kunse, R-Clare, said in a statement. “There are clearly deep issues within the commission that must be addressed. Just because we are talking about alcohol doesn’t make these problems any less concerning. We would all be fixated on finding solutions if the Department of Corrections said it lost 62,000 prisoners or Treasury said it lost 20% of tax revenues.”

The audit revealed that the MLCC failed to keep adequate sale and purchase records.

From February 2021 to August 2022, $1.1 billion in spirit orders weren’t filed in the state’s online ordering system. The MLCC also gave liquor licenses to three organizations prohibited from selling alcohol. Sales from these three businesses totaled $272,139 from Jan. 1, 2018, to Aug. 5, 2022.

“This is yet another example of the auditor general finding deep-rooted failures and incompetence within the Whitmer administration,” Kunse said. “It is critical that the Legislature ensure this office remains fully funded so it can continue its essential work. The governor clearly wants the investigations to end so she can continue failing our state and misusing taxpayer dollars. We can never let that happen.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s 2025 budget proposed cutting the watchdog’s budget by $8 million, or 28%.

The agency’s audits exposed rampant problems within the Unemployment Insurance Agency during COVID such as failing to perform some employee background checks. Another audit found that the Michigan Department of Education never fingerprinted 4% of contracted staff, and 7% weren’t done on time as required by state statute.

A third audit found the Cannabis Regulatory Agency “averaged 196 days and took up to 757 days to complete disciplinary action for 123 formal complaints involving licensee violations.”

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