With the presidential election right around the corner, I was curious to see what kind of a role the Alcohol Industry plays in an election year.
In an article written by Monica Vendituoli, she talks about how the industry is made up of wine, beer and liquor producers, distributors, and wholesalers as well as liquor stores, tend to lobby Congress on alcohol taxes and regulations — and little else. But in recent years, the industry also has lobbied on issues including alcohol and drug abuse and trade.
The industry’s top two campaign contributors — National Beer Wholesalers Association and the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America — contributed more than $3.95 million and $1.79 million, respectively, during the 2012 election cycle. Other top contributors included Anheuser-Busch InBev, Brown-Forman Corp., and Silver Eagle Distributors.
The industry reached an all time contribution high of close to $17.8 million, surpassing its 2008 record by more than $3 million. While the majority of the industry’s money went to Democrats in 2008, 60 percent of its contributions during the 2012 election cycle went to Republicans, the more usual pattern for this grouping.
The industry spent more than $21.5 million on lobbying in 2013, an uptick from the year before. Its strongest lobbying arm in Washington, D.C., the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, spent $5.2 million that year to prevent recession-spurred liquor tax increases, and to continue its fight against local “blue laws” that prohibit liquor sales on Sundays.
Top Contributors, 2015-2016
National Beer Wholesalers Assn $1,796,125
Silver Eagle Distributors $1,154,223
Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America $944,240
Kendall-Jackson Wine Estates $499,730
Southern Wine & Spirits $371,027
Total Wine $298,100
Charmer Sunbelt Group $269,829
Molson Coors Brewing $243,150
Total Wine & More $236,565
Brown-Forman Corp $217,401
Puma Springs Vineyards $215,760
Constellation Brands $171,180
Wine Institute $140,089
In an industry that is as regulated as alcohol, clearly having a paid voice that represents your interests is important. Based off the top contributors of 2015-16, it’s easy to see how and why Macro companies are able to impact the business in the manner in which they do. Correlations between contribution amounts and market activity seem to align. ABI for example has acquired the most brands in the last year (SAB) and challenged the Three Tier system (Brewery Owned Wholesalers) while contributing the most dollars by any entity. Brings a whole new meaning to “pay to play”.
Fun Fact: Hillary Clinton is the top recipient of contributions in 2015-16 with $229,828.