Politico: Liquid gold: Donations questioned

Written by admin on December 21st, 2010

Politico points out the critical timing of campaign contributions and critical votes in the beverage industry.

Politico

In all, at least 32 House members were given wholesaler contributions within a month of signing on to the legislation — including at least 10 lawmakers who were given contributions within a day of co-sponsoring the bill, according to a POLITICO analysis of data from the Center for Responsive Politics and public records.

The wholesalers said the contributions had nothing to do with the co-sponsorships. Lawmakers, too, said the timing is purely coincidental — with some asserting they had no idea the wholesalers had donated to them about the time of their co-sponsorships.

Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.) said the fact that he received a $2,500 check from the National Beer Wholesalers Association on May 5 — a week before he co-sponsored the legislation — was “just happenstance.”

“The beer and wine wholesalers have been regular and consistent contributors to my campaign, about every six months from what I can see, and obviously not tied to any one event,” said Thompson, who raised at least $10,000 from the beer wholesalers this election season.

Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly of Virginia sponsored the bill on May 18. The next day, he reported receiving $2,500 from the beer wholesalers. Connolly received at least $8,500 from beer and wine wholesalers’ lobbies this cycle. A Connolly spokesman would not comment.

The beer wholesalers also became the top contributor to House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers of Michigan, whose panel held a hearing on the legislation. Conyers received at least $66,700 from beer wholesalers this cycle. His office would not respond to requests for comment.

But the beer distributors didn’t stop at campaign contributions. Eleven days after the bill was introduced on April 15, the group’s top lobbyist took the unusual step of e-mailing every House member to let them know that his membership would consider co-sponsorship of the bill a “key vote” — a move usually reserved only for votes on bills, not sponsorships.

 

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