…On Behalf of the People
The process by which rules, laws and regulations concerning alcohol sales and distribution are created is, of course, the very best argument for public financing of campaigns—or at least for drastic reform of campaign financing.This assumes, of course, that legislation ought to be enacted with the goal of serving the broad public interests. It also assumes that laying waste to the democratic process by means of one group of constituents flooding lawmakers with money isn't the best way to communicate the broad public interest.
The Mackinaw Center for Public Policy in Michigan makes this case in a second hand fashion in an article they've just posted detailing how, why and with what tools Michigan's Beer & Wine Wholesalers have taken complete control of all policy making concerning alcohol distribution and the administration of alcohol distribution in that state.
The lengthy articles written by Kenneth Braun takes us back to a series of 2005 articles in the Detroit free Press that detailed how a state-supported, supposedly "private" group called alcohol distributors used any means necessary to completely co-opt the legislative process. Put another way: these alcohol distributors deal in the trade of people, votes, power and money.
The new article goes on to describe how HB 6644, recently passed in Michigan under cover of darkness, went about hurting consumers and Michigan businesses, stiffed commerce, reduced tax revenue for the state and generally provided a clear reflection on the nature of money and corruption in state government.
There is a "money quote" from the Mackinaw Center article:
"And these donations are not trivial. MCFN analysis shows that the
wholesalers ranked as one of the "top contributors" for 88 of the 148
lawmakers during the 2006 election cycle. Winning this election put
them in position to vote on the bill to ban direct shipment. For 65 of
them, the MB&WWA was one of their five largest single sources of
campaign cash; 51 of them received $4,000 or more from the wholesalers'
PAC and eight senators received equal to or in excess of $9,000."
This article, which will be expanded upon later by the Mackinaw Center, is recommended to anyone wondering whether campaign finance reform might be a good idea.