A week after news broke that the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) attempted to revoke all 164 of Spec’s permits to sell alcohol or fine them $713 million, the acting director of the agency has stepped down.
Ed Swedberg stepped into the position of executive director in May after former Executive Director Sherry Cook stepped down following the Texas Legislature’s condemnation of the agency for wasting taxpayer dollars on expensive travel and putting on lavish conferences using money from the liquor industry.
Prior to taking the position of executive director, Swedberg served as the deputy executive director under Cook since 2012.
In his resignation letter to TABC Chairman Kevin Lilly, Swedberg cited his reason for quitting as a refusal to participate in the firing of the TABC’s licensing director Amy Harrison.
Harrison was responsible for creating a flyer depicting agency leaders partying while attending a conference in California – a trip largely paid for by taxpayer dollars.
The graphics on the ad include cropped photos of Cook, Harrison and two other TABC employees flying on an airplane while sipping on Lone Star beer.
In addition to apparently celebrating the improper use of tax dollars based on the general tone the flyer conveys, the graphic was made on government time with government equipment.
Harrison is still employed at the agency, but Swedberg’s appointment remains temporary, with a new executive director potentially on the way.
Finalists are scheduled to be interviewed on Tuesday, and Chairman Lilly believes they will find a strong candidate to rebuild the agency’s credibility and reputation.
In addition to Swedberg and Cook, the agency’s general counsel, chief of enforcement and head of internal affairs have all left the agency, bringing the total number of TABC departures to five.