AUSTIN, Texas — It has been two years since the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) was last in the hot seat.
Lawmakers grilled top TABC officials in 2017 for misusing state resources after a Texas Tribune investigation. It ultimately ended with then-executive director Sherry Cook stepping down.
That investigation started after retired TABC inspector Darryl Darnell started asking questions.
Now, he's at it again. He said the agency is in trouble.
"I don't want to see it flounder, and I've got friends there," Darnell said.
After spending more than 25 years with the TABC, Darnell said he wasn't about to walk away.
"I really start noticing stuff that [was] kind of questionable that was going on," he said.
Now, he stays involved.
"The TABC that you see today is not the TABC that it's supposed to be," Darnell said.
He stays informed through open records requests. One of those showed the outcome of an internal investigation that former TABC officer Shawn Miller was involved in after witnessing two supervisors inappropriately grabbing an agent at a retirement lunch in October 2017.
"No, it wasn't a slap or a pat or anything else. It was a grab for several seconds," Miller told KVUE.
Miller wrote a memo and said he was fired after that.
That internal investigation identified Chief of Enforcement Victor Kuykendoll as one of the men accused of groping the agent.
At first, the investigation showed Kuykendoll denied the allegation. It also showed that his statements were inconsistent.
Ultimately, investigators concluded that Kuykendoll violated "TABC HR Policy 3.02 - Work and Professional Conduct : 4 15 (g) Misconduct - Physical or verbal abuse of other employees or members of the public."
Darnell said he is upset.
"I'm shocked and mad," he said. "I've known people there that have done less that have been terminated, but you have a high level – you have to understand, this is fourth in charge at TABC over the law enforcement division – and he's allowed to go out and assault and grope agents, whether it be male or female, that's irrelevant but he's allowed to go out and do that and they call it a managerial problem."
It's unclear if Kuykendoll was ever disciplined because there is no documentation.
KVUE reached out to the TABC to try to get answers, but Spokesperson Mariann Morelock said the agency has no comment.
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