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Former LCB chief Conti retires, stays on payroll - abc27 WHTM

Former LCB chief Conti retires, stays on payroll

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) -

It is a retirement, but government watchdogs are throwing no parties.

"Joe Conti is a living, breathing example of what's wrong with Pennsylvania politics," said Eric Epstein of Rock the Capital.

Epstein points to Conti's career and says he achieved a negative hat trick. As a Republican lawmaker, he voted for the pension increase of 2001 and the ill-fated pay raise of 2005, after which he chose not to face voters.

Enter Governor Rendell, who created the position of Liquor Control Board CEO in 2006 and gave it to Conti at a salary of $150,000. Conti will retire from the $156,000 position later this week.

"His two crowning achievements were this: hiring a public relations firm to teach the employees how to say 'please' and 'thank you,' and endorsing a campaign that taught mom to get drunk on Mothers Day," Epstein said.

But Joe Conti isn't leaving. He'll stay on as an LCB consultant at $80 an hour. Because he's also collecting a pension, he can't work more than 95 days. If he works the 95, he'll make an additional $60,800.

LCB spokeswoman Stacy Kriedeman said in a statement that Conti will "assist with upcoming budget hearings, offer critical expertise to the LCB, and help transition his successor."

Kriedeman also said Conti has been integral in rebranding Pennsylvania's Wine and Spirits stores, making them more customer friendly and expanding their hours.

But his retirement after six years comes amid a reported investigation by the Pennsylvania Ethics Commission.

"Mr. Conti is under an ethics investigation for trying to secure jobs for his friends and family and also for accepting gifts," Epstein said. "This is not the kind of guy we should be paying $80 an hour to keep in government. This is a guy we should be booting out of government."

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