Embattled TABC director resigns amid investigation into perks

TABC promo (TABC Photo)
TABC promo (TABC Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — After fielding some tough questions last week by the House Committee on General Investigations and Ethics, Sherry Cook, the executive director of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, has resigned from her position.

Gov. Greg Abbott’s Office issued a statement to KXAN stating: “It became clear that action needed to be taken to in order to restore trust in the agency and Ms. Cook’s resignation is the first step in that process.” In a Tweet, Gov. Abbott said “It’s time to clean house from regulators not spending taxpayer money wisely.”

The move comes after the Texas Tribune reported that Cook along with other TABC top brass had been jet-setting around the country on taxpayer’s money to attend conferences largely funded by the alcohol industry. The Texas Tribune also uncovered an internal flier showing TABC officials riding in airplane holding beer describing how they were excited to go to a conference in California, put on by regulators and the alcohol industry itself.

While the governor’s office said Cook was resigning, an official press release from TABC states Cook will retire from her position on May 23. “It has been an honor and a pleasure serving the people of Texas for all these years,” said Cook in the statement. “I want to thank all of the employees and peace officers at TABC for their hard work, dedication and support. I’m very proud of all they have accomplished keeping Texans safe and regulating a growing industry.”

Key lawmakers are currently investigating whether perks allotted to TABC employees help them in their professional or personal lives.

When Cook became a commissioned peace officer in 2009, she received an increase in pay, a handgun, an assault rifle, a bulletproof vest, a badge and a state-issued vehicle and gas card she used to get to work and back home. The Texas Tribune reports became the agency’s executive director in 2012. Committee Chair Rep. Sarah Davis, R-West University Park, was skeptical of Cook’s role in that position, as well as of several missing state-issued cars.

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