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Business expert — and social drinker — picked to join Utah liquor commission

AT&T’s Mountain States President Tara Thue brings government and legislative experience to the board that oversees alcohol sales and licensing in the state.

(Rick Egan | Salt Lake Tribune file photo) Tara Thue, AT&T's president Mountain West States, has been nominated to serve on the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission.

Tara Thue, a Utah native and expert in public policy and telecommunications, is poised to become the newest member of the state liquor commission.

Gov. Spencer Cox named the North Logan native to the seven-member board that oversees liquor sales and licensing for the Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

A state Senate committee confirmed her nomination last week. She now awaits final approval by the full Senate.

Thue’s government and legislative experience — as AT&T’s president of the Mountain West States — is expected to help steer the state agency that, in fiscal 2019-20, topped more than $500 million in annual sales for the first time in state history.

Thue replaces former Rep. Sophia DiCaro, who left the board to to lead the Governor’s Office of Management and Budget.

At AT&T, Thue leads all external, governmental and community affairs in Idaho, Montana and Utah. Before joining the company, she served in the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development, overseeing efforts to improve broadband access. She also worked on federal technology and communications public policy at Comcast Corp. in Washington, D.C., before returning to her home state.

At the end of the day, the DABC is a business, and I hope to bring my experience and insight to help improve business efficiencies and maximize revenues for the taxpayers of Utah,” she said during her confirmation hearing last week. “Specifically, I believe there’s more the agency can do to improve their customer service focus and enhancing e-government operations for both the companies they regulate and the companies they serve.”

Thue wrapped up her comments to the committee by answering the million-dollar “drinking” question.

“I’ll just let the cat out of the bag,” she said, “and let you know I do drink alcohol.”

That means imbibers remain the majority on the sometimes-controversial state panel.

Membership on the state liquor commission has been divided along political lines, with Republicans holding the majority of seats and Democrats filling the remaining three spots.

Other commissioners who have said they are or have been social drinkers include:

• Thomas Jacobson, a Park City attorney.

• Jacquelyn Orton, a Democrat and widow of former U.S. Rep. Bill Orton.

• Juliette Tennert, chief economist at the University of Utah Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute.

Teetotalers include:

• Chairman John T. Nielsen, a former Salt Lake County prosecutor who directed the Public Safety Department from 1985 to 1989.

• Steven B. Bateman, the former chief executive officer of St. Mark’s Hospital and now a professor at Weber State University.

• Stanley B. Parrish, former Utah business leader.

A graduate of Utah State University with a dual major in political science and economics, Thue currently serves on the board of directors for the Salt Lake Chamber, Economic Development Corp. of Utah and Make-A-Wish Utah.

She and her husband, Matt, a professor at Weber State University, are the parents of two children.

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