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PAPPYGATE: Liquor commission execs won’t face charges over bourbon scandal

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(The Center Square) – Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum announced tthe Oregon Department of Justice declared that no one involved in Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission (OLCC) diversion of in-demand bottles of bourbon should face criminal charges.

Rosenblum announced this in a letter to Governor Tina Kotek. However, this investigation only looked at criminal matters and not violations of state ethics laws by OLCC employees.

“To the extent allowed by law, documents, and reports resulting from the criminal investigation will be available to the Oregon Government Ethics Commission for consideration in its pending ethics investigation,” a press release from the Oregon Department of Justice said.

The DOJ’s Criminal Justice Division (CJ) conducted this investigation, and CJ Chief Counsel Michael Slauson oversaw it.

CJ investigators looked at over 10,000 OLCC internal documents, reports, and emails, and interviewed over 40 individuals. The 40 people the investigators interviewed included OLCC employees, former employees, associates of employees, OLCC commissioners, liquor store agents and employees, liquor industry personnel, legislators, and citizens who filed complaints.

Special agents also got and analyzed records from OLCC and non-OLCC sources; those included liquor stores, liquor distributors, and financial institutions.

“While the investigation found that the conduct reviewed did not meet the burden necessary for criminal prosecution, the documents and reports resulting from the extensive criminal investigation will be available to the Oregon Government Ethics Commission for consideration in its pending review of ethics complaints related to this matter,” Governor Kotek said in a statement.

The investigation came in response to a scheme from high-ranking OLCC to buy up rare and valuable bourbon before giving that opportunity to the general public.

An internal OLCC investigation last year found that its then-executive director plus five other agency employees used their positions of power to obtain highly-desired bourbons, including Pappy Van Winkle’s 23-year-old whiskey, according to KGW.

It happened at a time when these bourbons were in high demand.

The OLCC’s internal investigation was also the subject of controversy as it caused then-OLCC Executive Director Steve Marks and longtime OLCC chairman Paul Rosenbaum to resign at the request of Kotek.

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