Head of DABC Fired, Suspected of Breaking State Procurement Law

(KCPW News) Governor Gary Herbert has demanded and received the immediate resignation of the Executive Director of Utah’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Dennis Kellen already intended to step down soon, following criticism from state lawmakers over allegations of mismanagement. But now the governor says after being notified this week of potential violations of state procurement law and his ethics policy, he has lost confidence in DABC leadership. Herbert’s spokeswoman, Ally Isom, says the administration had planned to give Kellen more time while the remaining DABC commission seat was filled.

“We were in the process of finalizing all commission appointments and upon finalizing those appointments had anticipated transitioning the director at that time, but upon learning of this potential manipulation of the purchasing process the governor felt it was time to expedite the transition in leadership at DABC,” she tells KCPW.

The governor also requested a state audit of the findings, which he says will determine whether there will be further action.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that hundreds of payments made by the DABC to a company run by Kellen’s son, called Flexpak, are being investigated.

“We just look forward to the audit determining if any further action is warranted and to better understand how records have been managed and finances have been handled in DABC,” says Isom.

Governor Herbert assigned Francine Giani, head of the Utah Department of Commerce, to serve as interim director of the DABC. A new, permanent director would be subject to approval by the state Senate.