Joe Conti, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board's onetime CEO who recently joined the state's lobbying ranks, has a new client: some of his old employees, actually.
According to state lobbying disclosure records, Conti now represents the interests of the union that represents the interests of the clerks at the 600-plus state-run wine and spirits stores. That would be the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1776, headed by Wendell W. Young IV.
Conti picked up the new account on September 16, according to his lobbying records. He did not immediately respond to calls.
But Young, whose union has been fighting an aggressive, Republican-led push for liquor privatization, said it made "perfect sense" to hire Conti, who oversaw some of the LCB's attempts to make the state-run stores more efficient and consumer-friendly.
Conti "retired" from his $156,000 position at the LCB in January, even as Gov. Corbett was preparing his most aggressive push yet to privatize the agency. Days after he announced his departure, the LCB decided to temporarily bring him back, at $80 dollars an hour.
Conti was brought back under a provision in the state retirement code that permits former employees to return on an emergency basis while still collecting pensions.
The move was controversial, as it came while the LCB contends with a state Ethics Commission probe into allegations that top officials at the LCB, Conti among them, accepted gifts and favors from vendors.
The Inquirer has reported that the clock is running down for state ethics investigators to complete that inquiry. Ethics investigators are given up to 360 days to report findings to the full commission,which then determines whether rules have been broken.Though the exact date of the inquiry began could not be learned, several lawyers involved in the case have said they were first told of in the summer of 2012.
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