Concern raised with direction of alcohol regulatory board

A former director of the agency that regulates Alaska’s liquor industry says interference by the state Commerce commissioner’s office limited her ability to effectively do her job.

Shirley Cote raised concerns with the direction of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board in an opinion piece published in the Anchorage Daily News.

The board for years fell under the Department of Public Safety. In 2012, lawmakers moved it under the Commerce department, along with other industry regulatory boards. The intent was not to change the board’s enforcement responsibilities.

But Cote said the Commerce department is “actively assisting” the hospitality industry in changing the board’s direction.

Commerce Commissioner Susan Bell called that characterization inappropriate.

She said the move to Commerce also included an expectation there would be outreach to businesses.