Illinois & Wine Politics
I have been for quite some time convinced that the single most important factor in determining whose interests are represented by the Governing Class is campaign contribution. I believe this is the case whether you consider the issue of Gun Control, Taxation, Environmental Policy and, especially, Alcohol regulation.
To that end, I thought it time to use a few posts to shine the light on how campaign contributions by alcohol interests are dispersed in various key states.
In this post we take up the State of Illinois
The break down of how much campaign contributions were given by sectors of the alcohol industry in Illinois looks like this:
Beer Producers $243,162
Wine & Spirit Producers $96,958
Liquor Stores $17,659
LARGEST SINGLE CONTRIBUTORS
The most prolific contributors to state political campaigns from the Alcohol Industry in Illinois in 2008 included the following:
Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois (wholesalers): $1,164,609
Southern Wine & Spirits (wholesalers): $179,550
Wine & Spirit Distributors of Illinois: (wholesalers): $162,900
Anheuser-Busch (beer producers): $157,912
SABMILLER: (beer producers): $78,250
DIAGEO: (wine & spirit producers): $66,450
Judge & Dolph (wholesalers): $50,500
Illinois represents one of those states where control of the alcohol regulatory structure and process has been completely co-opted by the alcohol wholesalers. As in most states, the Illinois legislature sets policy where alcohol is concerned and the Illinois Liquor Control Commission carries out the will of the legislature. Where alcohol policy is concerned, Illinois alcohol wholesalers control legislative policy.
Consider HB 2462, a bill that would allow Illinois residents to have wine shipped directly to their door from out-of-state wine stores. Illinois residents may have wine shipped to them from in-state wineries, out-of-state wineries and in-state wine stores; but not from out-of-state wine stores. There is literally no sensible argument that can offered to oppose HB 2462 unless hypocrisy is deemed "sensible."
Yet, this bill will not get out of committee this year. After it was introduced it was assigned to the House Businesses & Occupational Licenses Committee. The sponsor of HB 2462 quickly had it pulled from this committee because it became clear that even without any debate, it would fail to be approved by this committee and sent to the floor of the Senate for a full vote by the Illinois House of Representatives.
The only significant opposition to this bill comes from Illinois alcohol wholesalers.
It should not be a surprise that the the Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois is the single largest campaign contributor to members of the House Businesses & Occupational Licenses Committee. Among the other largest campaign contributors to this committee's members are Southern Wine & Spirits and the Wine & Spirit Wholesalers of Illinois.
It has long been known that Illinois is one of the most politically corrupt states in the Union. In this case, that corruption is represented by the fact that a very small industry, controlled largely by two alcohol distributors, has been granted control of the state's alcohol regulatory structure in exchange for campaign contributions. The losers are clearly the citizens of Illinois.