A lawyer for Oregon Recovers, an addiction recovery advocacy group, sent a letter Thursday asking that a member of the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission be disqualified from an upcoming vote on whether to raise the surcharge on liquor sales from 50 cents to $1.
The letter argues that the commissioner has a conflict of interest.
“Commissioner Floyd has an actual conflict of interest, and, thus, the OLCC should inform the Governor,” the letter reads.
Commissioner Kiauna Floyd owns an Italian restaurant in Portland. In remarks made during a public hearing in April, she suggested that the fee increase up for a vote later this month could hurt her business.
“For me it would undoubtedly, inevitably mean job loss,” she said. “All these hits we’re taking – you can only absorb so much.”
Supporters say the fee increase could help curb underage and binge drinking. Distillers and members of the hospitality industry argue that the fee will hurt businesses that are already struggling with inflation and the aftermath of the pandemic.
The fee, which would fund addiction recovery services, was proposed by Gov. Tina Kotek. And Kotek is the person who advocates are now arguing should decide whether to replace Floyd for the vote or allow for some other remedy of the conflict.
A spokesman for the OLCC said the commission has flagged the legal issue for the Oregon Department of Justice for review. Commissioner Floyd declined to comment for this story.
State law does allow for some exceptions to the conflict of interest rules, and one clearly might apply to Floyd. That’s when someone is required to have a certain industry experience to qualify for a role.
Oregon Recovers argues that the exception doesn’t apply in this case. They say the OLCC is required to have just one representative of the food and alcohol industry and it currently has two.