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OLCC Chair’s Favoritism Exposed: Seeking Elmer T. Lee Bourbon for Personal Connection, Records Reveal

OLCC Chair’s Favoritism Exposed: Seeking Elmer T. Lee Bourbon for Personal Connection, Records Reveal

An Intriguing Tale of Bourbon, Bureaucracy, and Buddies

Picture this: a hotshot bureaucrat, nestled in the upper echelons of Oregon’s state government, using his power and position to procure a beloved bourbon for a friend. It’s a peculiar idea, isn’t it? But, as strange as it may sound, it is what the Oregon Liquor Control Commission’s (OLCC) chair appears to have done, if public records are to be believed.

The Liquor Trade in Oregon

The OLCC is the sole purveyor of hard liquor in Oregon, a unique way of doing things in a country where most states allow liquor and spirits to be sold in private stores. For, in Oregon, small batch, rare bourbons like Elmer T. Lee are hardly to be found in the wild. Instead, they’re directly shipped to a government warehouse from where a lottery decides who gets to buy.

The Powerful Player Involved

Now, imagine you’re one such government official who just so happens to oversee this entire process, and you’ve got a friend who loves Elmer T. Lee bourbon. What do you do? Use your power to secure a case of his favorite hard-to-find bourbon.

That’s what Michael Harper, the former chair of the OLCC, appears to have done. Public records show that Mr. Harper used his high-ranking position to help an acquaintance secure a coveted case of Elmer T. Lee bourbon.

The Highly Coveted Bourbon

Elmer T. Lee bourbon isn’t just any bourbon. It’s a single barrel, high-quality bourbon named after a master distiller. He was a seminal character in the bourbon boom of the late 20th century and was one of the first to introduce a premium, single-barrel bourbon to the market. The bourbon that bears his name is as coveted and hard-to-get as a Rolling Stones concert ticket for their farewell tour would be.

The Alleged Scandal

Rumor has it that Mr. Harper himself took the pains to ensure that a case of this excellent bourbon was sent to his friend. While it did not amount to any direct legal violation, one can’t ignore the fact that it raises some ethical concerns in regards to the misuse of a public position for personal gains.

Setting a Wrong Precedent

The whole incident raises considerable doubts about the validity of such moves, questioning the integrity of a public servant. By manipulating the system for personal interests, aren’t they bypassing the general public, who have equal rights on the rare commodities?

The Public Outcry

Understandably those in the know aren’t thrilled about Mr. Harper’s maneuverings. After all, the bourbon aficionados had to play by the lottery rules, only to learn about the special treatment given to Mr. Harper’s friend.

Awaiting Clarity

It remains to be seen how this matter will unfold. What will the repercussions be for Mr. Harper? Will the OLCC see a change in the way it handles rare liquor distribution? Only time will tell.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, it comes down to accountability and transparency in civil service. Many questions have been raised, not just about the integrity of a single person, but about an entire system that might allow, or even facilitate such acts for personal gains. What it underscores is that bending the rules, irrespective of the reasons, is far from acceptable and stirs a considerable public outcry.

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Written by Emma Jones

Emma Jones has been writing about the spirits industry for the past five years. She has a degree in journalism and has written for several publications. Emma is passionate about the history and culture of whiskey and bourbon, and loves to share her knowledge with her readers. She is an active member of the Bourbon Women Association and the Kentucky Distillers Association. Emma is also a frequent speaker at whiskey and bourbon events, and has been featured in several publications and podcasts. She is dedicated to educating her readers on the history and culture of whiskey and bourbon, and is always looking for new ways to share her knowledge.

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