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Last month the newspapers reported Governor Easley’s state ABC Board Chairman taking a junket to Ireland, courtesy of Irish whiskey distillers. It turns out that trip was the tip of the iceberg. ABC Board Chairman, Doug Fox, has also taken junkets to Guadalajara, Mexico, Aspen, Phoenix, Fort Lauderdale, Marco Island, Florida, and a second time to Ireland. (Charlotte Observer; 10-25-06).

Fox says the trips are tough work, telling the Observer, “You’re working from eight until ten o’clock at night or later…You’re meeting with people from the Mayor of Guadalajara to the city council, people from the tequila industry.” Now that’s an image to savor. Our ABC Chairman discussing tequila with the Mayor of Guadalajara.

Fox, an attorney, is paid $103,000 by the state. He says of his work as ABC Chairman, “It’s a job that is 24-7.” But, the Observer also reported Fox “still does real estate work at his law practice.” Apparently, on weekends.

What is Governor Easley doing about all this? Not much. His spokesperson defended Fox, saying, “The state ethics board staff did not believe the Ireland trip violated current ethics guidelines.”

Governor, if the Chairman of the ABC Board accepting junkets to Ireland and Mexico from whisky and tequila distillers doesn’t violate your ethics guidelines – what does?

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