And to think this all began as a simple plan to send clerks who work at state-run liquor stores to charm school so they could brush up on their manners.
It could end up being the latest scandal in a state plagued by corruption and misuse of public dollars.
Wagner announced Friday his office will launch an investigation at the request of Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board Chairman Patrick J. Stapleton III, who just the day before released a statement saying the contract was above-board.
I guess there's nothing wrong with covering your tail.
The PLCB recently awarded a $173,000 contract to a Pittsburgh firm owned by the husband of the PLCB's regional manager for Western Pennsylvania.
"State agencies must go the extra mile, especially during difficult financial times, to assure taxpayers that there is no favoritism or conflict of interest occurring in the awarding of contracts to private vendors," Wagner said in a written statement. "The Department of the Auditor General will conduct a thorough review to make sure that a contract given to Solutions 21 was awarded properly, and according to all applicable state laws and guidelines."
From a press release issued by Wagner:
The PLCB awarded a contract to Solutions 21 to provide customer courtesy training to nearly 4,000 employees, including 670 management-level workers, according to newspaper reports. Competing bidders charged that the PLCB rushed its decision to award the training contract to Solutions 21, whose president, Buddy Hobart, is the husband of Susanne Hobart, a high-ranking PLCB official.For more on the 5,000 audits Wagner's office conducts each year, visit the Auditor General's Web site at www.auditorgen.state.pa.us
Gov. Rendell on Wednesday called for a review of how the contract was awarded, saying, "All conflicts of interest should be investigated."
In his letter to Wagner, Stapleton said, "We are confident that any fair review of the process will find that both the PLCB and Solutions 21 acted appropriately at all times. Accordingly, we would ask your office to conduct expeditiously a financial review of this matter."
Wagner said that the Department of the Auditor General would conduct an internal review to determine how to proceed with the review and would announce details shortly.
The Department of the Auditor General's Bureau of Federal Audits conducts an annual financial audit of the Liquor Control Board. The last audit was issued for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2007. In addition, the department's Bureau of Liquor Audits conducts annual performance audits of the individual state liquor stores.
Originally posted at TONY PHYRILLAS