By Steve Mistler
AUGUSTA — Maine’s liquor and lottery commissioner said Wednesday that opportunities in the private sector led to his decision to resign as of Feb. 28.
Gerry Reid, a former liquor and tobacco marketing executive, joined the LePage administration in 2012 and played a significant role in a new 10-year liquor contract that officials say will generate $450 million in revenue. Reid said he’s leaving his state job to resume consulting work in the liquor industry.
Reid, who lives in Northport, would not identify the company he planned to work with, but said it is not involved in the 10-year state contract recently signed with Pine State Trading or in the upcoming liquor marketing contract that will be awarded in the next few weeks.
Reid said his resignation was timed to ensure that both contracts are completed before he leaves.
He had confirmed Tuesday evening that he was stepping down, but would not say until Wednesday why he was leaving. He said he had accepted the state liquor job because, after spending most of his career in the private sector, he was interested in how “control states” such as Maine manage the liquor business.
“I also had a lot of interest in helping (Gov. Paul LePage),” he said. “I think he’s a guy whose heart is in the right place and he’s trying to do the right thing for Maine.”
Reid said he has repeatedly been asked to return to the private sector since coming out of retirement to take the state job in 2012.
During his time with the LePage administration, Reid pitched new strategies to make the state more competitive with New Hampshire, a state he believed was undercutting Maine on prices.
The recently signed liquor contract and Reid’s strategy to increase sales are considered critical to the state’s repayment of a $220 million bond that LePage and the Legislature approved last year. The bond was used to repay $183 million in backlogged Medicaid reimbursements the state owed Maine’s hospitals. Terms of the deal with Pine State were not disclosed.
Reid said Monday that the $450 million in projected revenues from the liquor contract were real and that he was proud to have been involved in the process to reposition Maine’s liquor business.
Before he was the state’s liquor and lottery chief, Reid oversaw product development for Jose Cuervo International, the tequila company. During the early part of his career he worked as the brand manager for Brown and Williamson tobacco.
Reid’s tenure with the state included new visions for the lottery system. The innovative approach hit a public relations snag in 2013 when the state rolled out a scratch ticket marketing campaign called “Kwikies.” Reid’s office said the name initially tested well among retailers and consumers, but the state quickly abandoned the campaign before its full implementation because the name, although spelled differently, is slang for brief sexual encounters.
Reid later apologized for signing off on the campaign, saying it was part of the state effort to consistently market scratch ticket games.
Steve Mistler can be contacted at 791-6345 or at:
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