Under the influence: New report shows how Ohio’s Wholesale Beer and Wine Association used state’s new higher campaign contribution limits to become major player at State Capital
New report shows how Ohio’s Wholesale Beer and Wine Association used state’s new higher campaign contribution limits to become major player at State Capital
By making nearly $900,000 in political contributions, the Wholesale Beer and Wine Association of Ohio has become an even more powerful political force in the state Legislature, thanks to a new campaign finance law that quadrupled the contribution limits, according to a report by Common Cause Ohio with support from the Common Cause Education Fund.
The $861,870 in campaign contributions to state candidates and party committees made by the beer and wine wholesalers between 2003 and 2006 helped the industry fight off two significant tax increase proposals on beer and wine, arguing that raising costs was not in the best interest of consumers. But when proposed legislation threatened their state-mandated markup that would potentially lower the price of wine in Ohio, the wholesalers this time suggested that wine costs should be kept higher to limit alcohol abuse.
The report profiles the industry’s winning legislative battles, and looks at campaign contributions made to state officials to help the industry’s agenda, and how the industry embraced new higher contribution limits passed in the name of reform.
“Ohio’s Beer and Wine Association has expertly used the state’s new lofty campaign contribution limits to give generously to legislators who support their interests and financial bottom line, regardless of the public interest,” said Bill Woods, chairman of Common Cause Ohio. “This is yet another example of why the Ohio Legislature and governor should regain the public’s trust by rolling back the contribution limits passed hastily in 2005, and passing real campaign finance reform.”
In late 2005, former Gov. Bob Taft signed a so-called campaign finance law that while improving disclosure quadrupled contribution limits by individuals and political action committees to $10,000 for each the primary and general elections, up from $2,500 for each the primary and the general elections. Since then, the wholesalers giving has increased significantly, along with their influence.
Click here to read the report.