Oregon Governor recommends new OLCC interim director amid scandal

Oregon Governor Tina Kotek has made her recommendation of who she wants the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission to appoint as its interim director amid its ongoing scandal.

Kotek wants the OLCC to appoint Craig Prins as its interim director. He has served as the inspector general for the Oregon Department of Corrections since 2016.

“Craig Prins brings the necessary experience in change management to correct the course of the commission and support the employees doing the work every day,” Governor Kotek said in a press release issued by her office on Wednesday. “He shares my commitment to accountability and transparency, and his appointment will create an opportunity to strengthen oversight, improve customer service, and begin to rebuild the public’s trust.”

Prins said that, if appointed, he will work to change the OLCC to prevent its members from abusing their positions of power.

“If appointed, I will implement the changes in leadership requested by the Governor, fully cooperate with the Department of Justice, and work collaboratively with OLCC’s dedicated workforce,” Prins said in the release. “I will lead with integrity, transparency, and an unwavering commitment to serve Oregonians.”

The letter comes one day after OLCC executive director Steve Marks resigned from his position after being implicated in the scandal. In Oregon, the governor appoints members of the OLCC's board of commissioners. However, the board selects the executive director.

Late last week, the Criminal Division of Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum’s office opened a criminal investigation against some members of OLCC leadership. The office accused them of using their positions of power for personal gain.

Rosenblum’s office said the investigation into the office deals with liquor purchases made by OLCC members. However, neither Rosenblum’s nor Kotek’s office has explained what happened.

Last week, Governor Kotek requested that the OLCC remove its executive director and other leadership members.

“This behavior is wholly unacceptable,” Kotek wrote in a letter to the OLCC last week. “I will not tolerate wrongful violations of our government ethics laws.”

"I urge the commission to install new leadership and remove the managers and executive leadership who have taken advantage of their access and authority to benefit themselves," Kotek added.

In her letter to the OLCC last week, Kotek said an internal review confirmed OLCC members committed some ethics violations.

In her letter, Kotek called on Rosenblum to conduct a civil investigation. She wrote the letter before Rosenblum's office opened its criminal investigation. Kotek asked Rosenblum to recommend measures to prevent these violations from happening again.

"This investigation should not undermine the great work that the staff of OLCC performs every day,” Kotek wrote. “Despite the disappointing actions of a few, the vast majority of public servants within OLCC serve Oregonians with integrity and dedication."

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