“Follow the money,” a quote from All the President’s Men where Deep Throat advised Bob Woodward that the key to understanding the Watergate mystery was the money. In the case of HR 1161 “The Care Bill” or what should be called the “Wholesaler Protection Act” which seeks to limit or stop direct sales of wine to you from wineries and wine clubs, one only needs to “follow the money.” X
Direct shipment is a critical part of the business plan for many small, family and artisanal wineries. Small wineries can not compete with large wineries for shelf space in your local wine shop. Direct shipments to happy customers and wine clubs are their best avenue for survival.
Below is an eye-popping investigative report by Tom Wark of Fermentation: Daily Blog and Specialty Wine Retailers Association. The report shows how the massive amount of donation dollars by beer and wine wholesale groups have influenced Congress to protect the wholesale monopoly. If passed, HR 1161 will limit consumer choices and limit the ability of local retailers to deal directly with wineries to carry wines that a wholesaler may not carry. The sponsors of this bill are equally split between Democrats and Republicans (pork knows no party) and many became sponsors shortly after receiving donations (shocking, I know!) from either the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) and the Wine & Spirit Wholesalers Association (WSWA).
A new report issued today by the Specialty Wine Retailers Associations shows that wine wholesalers have spent more than $82 million dollars on state and federal campaign contribution and federal lobbying over just the past three election cycles from 2006 through 2010. The amount dwarfs that spent by the rest of the alcohol industry and came in advance of wholesalers’ current attempt to pass radical legislation in Congress that would benefit only the wholesale tier of the alcohol industry.
The just released report, “Toward Liquor Domination,” outlines the extraordinary amounts of money wholesalers spend to retain their influence in state capitals and in Washington, D.C. and to assure policies specifically protecting the wholesaler from competition are retained and advanced.
The new 17-page report can be found online at: http://www.specialtywineretailers.org/documents.html
POLITICAL SPENDING PUTS WHOLESALER AGENDA IN FRONT OF CONGRESS
“When you look at these kinds of expenditures by wholesalers over such a short time period, it’s not hard to understand why they are currently pushing federal legislation that would prohibit judicial challenges to archaic, constitutionally questionable and discriminatory laws the benefit only the wholesaler,” said Daniel Posner, Board Member of the Specialty Wine Retailers Association. “House Resolution 1161, now currently awaiting hearings in the House Judiciary Committee, would assure that alcohol policy is dominated by wholesalers in the legislative venues they control via enormous campaign contributions and lobbying.”
The new report shows that since 2006, alcohol wholesalers have spent nearly $60 million in campaign contributions at the state level alone. This is nearly double the amount that wineries, distillers, brewers and wine stores have contributed combined.
THE KEY POINTS IN “TOWARD LIQUOR DOMINATION”:
1. In the three election cycles between 2006 and 2010, American alcohol wholesalers have spent $82 million on contributions to federal and state political campaigns and federal lobbying efforts.
2. In the last three election cycles between 2006 and 2010, American alcohol wholesalers have spent more than $15.4 million dollars on contributions to federal election campaigns.
3. Wholesalers have spent nearly double the rest of the alcohol industry on federal campaign contribu¬tions over the past three federal election cycles.
4. The primary wholesaler trade associations, the National Beer Wholesalers Association and the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers Association, alone have spent more than $8.8 million on federal lobbying over the past three election cycles between 2006 and 2010.
5. Nationwide, wholesalers have contributed more than $58 million to state political campaigns in the past three election cycles between 2006 and 2010.
6. Wholesalers have spent roughly twice what all other sectors of the American alcohol beverage trade have spent on state political campaigns during the past three election cycles between 2006 and 2010.
7. Due to their tremendous influence and access purchased with profits guaranteed by a state man¬dated use of the wholesale tier, wholesalers have been successful in significantly gaming the alcohol regulatory system to their advantage with protectionist laws in nearly every state.
8. The success of the American alcohol wholesaler in buying protection from competition has put the other sectors of the alcohol industry under their control, reduced state tax revenues, and severely lim¬ited consumer access to new products.
ABOUT SPECIALTY WINE RETAILERS ASSOCIATION
SWRA is a national organization of wine retailers, associated businesses and supporters of fair trade that seek a well-regulated and fair market for the sale and distribution of wine. For more information: http://www.specialtywineretailers.org/
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