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Utah liquor laws dictate Gov-elect Cox doesn't pick his own DABC director

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Posted at 2:37 PM, Dec 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-22 19:45:58-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Another interesting aspect of Utah liquor laws: the governor doesn't actually pick who he wants to lead the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

Instead, Governor-elect Spencer Cox will choose from a list of names submitted by the powerful DABC commission. On Tuesday, the commission advanced three candidates to replace retiring director Sal Petilos:

  • DABC compliance director Angela Micklos
  • DABC deputy director Cade Meier
  • Tiffany Clason, the district director for Congressman Ben McAdams

Under Utah law, the commission advances its nominees and the governor chooses one. If the governor doesn't like any of them, he can reject all of the nominees and the commission must start over again.

This may be the only state agency where a governor doesn't just pick who he wants for a cabinet position. The DABC did not immediately respond to inquiries about how it chooses the nominees.

All cabinet posts are subject to a confirmation vote by the Utah State Senate. On Twitter, Gov.-elect Spencer Cox reacted to the law with a "shrug" and "laugh" emoji.

The DABC Executive Director carries out the day-to-day operations of an agency that controls the sale and supply of alcohol in Utah, which has become a half-billion dollar business for the state. The director answers to the governor, but also to the governor-appointed commission which is tasked with handing out liquor licenses, enforcing policy set by the legislature and disciplining violations.

But after he is sworn into office, Gov. Cox will get to turn around and nominate a new commissioner. Sophia DiCaro is leaving to oversee the Governor's Office of Management and Budget.