Wine Distributors + Money + Lawmakers
It is such a common story I hesitate to even deliver this information to FERMENTATION readers. However, I can’t resist.
Reports in Illinois newspapers have that state’s beer and wine distributors delivering more
bribes campaign contributions to legislators in the first half of this year than in any other six month period in history. The stories note that it was during this time that the Illinois beer and wine distributors were looking to the legislature to pass a law that would prevent the state’s small wineries from doing what they’ve done for years: sell direct to consumers as well as restaurants and wine shops.
The Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois alone have spent more than $335,000 in the first half of the year putting money in legislators coffers. Here’s the "Money Quote: from the article:
"Among the biggest recipients of the group’s contributions, records
show, were lawmakers who co-sponsored legislation to stop those wine
sales. They received contributions ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 each."
The Vice president of the Associated Beer Distributors responds like this:
"We support candidates based on their records, and their support in the
past, and whether they’re willing to learn about our industry," said
the group’s vice president William Olson. "We do not ever talk about
campaign support and any particular legislation in the same breath. We
never link any campaign support with any specific piece of legislation.
We’ve cut off conversations when they started to go there."
My favorite quote is this:
"We do not ever talk about
campaign support and any particular legislation in the same breath."
I’m sure the wineries in Illinois are grateful that Mr. Olson doesn’t strain his heart and lungs by trying to fit "You do this for us" and "We’ll do this for you" into the same sentence.
No legislation was actually passed in Illinois this year after the wineries pulled out of what was a really crummy arrangement they made. But you can be sure that legislation favoring distributors and hampering the burgeoning Illinois wine industry will once again emerge. I mean, what do you expect for $300k+?