ABC administrator resigns after critical audit

RALEIGH, N.C. — Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission administrator, Michael Herring, resigned this week over an audit that criticized the commission’s handling of a multimillion-dollar liquor warehousing and distribution contract.

Herring, who had been with the agency since 1981, said State Auditor Beth Wood’s audit missed the mark, and he complained that Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration hung him and others who have worked for the ABC Commission in recent years out to dry by not fighting her “fictitious findings.”

The audit said the commission wasted some $14 million by allowing its distribution contract with a private vendor to balloon over 13 years. Wood’s office said the commission failed to monitor the contract and repeatedly allowed price increases above what the contract itself allowed. The audit also questioned the need for a 200,000-square-foot warehouse in Clayton that auditors found largely empty last November and December.

The warehouse vendor on that contract, LB&B Associates, has also criticized the audit. Herring managed day-to-day operations at the ABC from 1995 to 2014 as the commission’s chief administrator. Then-Gov. Pat McCrory appointed him to the commission itself in 2016. Wood’s audit covered 2004 to 2017.