Focus at Four: New TABC leader promises to make 'positive changes' to clean up agency

Bryan lawyer Bentley Nettles has been tapped to be the new executive director for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, an agency that has seen recent scandal over its employees' extravagant spending with taxpayer dollars.

Nettles is also a graduate of Texas A&M University, and has a lengthy military background.

He was released from active duty in 2015 and now has a law office in Bryan, focused on assisting veterans with issues related to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, estate planning, Medicaid and small business. Over the course of his military career, he was awarded 24 awards and badges, including a Purple Heart.

Nettles sat down on First News at Four to discuss the "positive changes" he feels need to be made within the TABC.

"I suspect some of the changes are to make sure that the Texas taxpayers know they're spending their money in a proper manner," said Nettles. "The TABC is really a jewel agency for the state of Texas. They return for the taxpayers six times. Every dollar that gets invested they bring in $6 of revenue. Incredible organization and a lot of hardworking people down in the field."

The TABC is undergoing a shift, as the former executive director and many other leaders resigned amidst the spending scandal. Furthermore, the Texas legislature voted to severely restrict TABC travel out of state.

Nettles says, he's not concerned about the restrictions.

"The primary mission is to implement the alcoholic beverage laws in the state of Texas, protect Texas consumers and create a level playing field for alcoholic businesses," said Nettles. "Those we can do without ever leaving the state."

However, Nettles looks forward to a day when the reigns are loosened.
"It's important to have public-private partnerships, and some of those are through networking with our peers in other states to see what they're doing," said Nettles. "Because the changes that are occurring there are probably coming to Texas."

"If there are innovative ways to regulate the industry, then we need to be aware of those," Nettles said. "So I don't see it as a big challenge. Once we demonstrate to the governor and the legislature that we are good stewards of the taxpayer dollars, I'm certain that those restrictions will be released."

Nettles says he's working with the current TABC staff to determine a start date while he wraps up his law practice in Bryan.

For the full conversation with Nettles, see the video player above.

For more on the TABC spending scandal, see the Related Links.