Beer and liquor wholesalers gave $1.3 million this election cycle to members of Congress who signed up as co-sponsors of HR 5034, the bill written to reinforce states’ rights to regulate alcohol. Not really a lot unusual about money flowing into campaigns following the introduction of controversial legislation, except that the wholesalers seem to have been maybe just a teeny bit ham-fisted in their enthusiasm. According to 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 reaction to the analysis is, basically, “Who, us?”
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.
Right. It’s entirely coincidental that beer and liquor wholesalers donated money to cosponsors of legislation that beer and liquor wholesalers are said to have written.
Allegations of corruption — including possible investigations by the Congressional Ethics Office and the Federal Election Commission — decrease the chance of the bill coming up for a vote; no one involved wants the whiff of scandal to become a full-fledged stink. Besides, not many people want HR 5034 to come up for a vote anyway, since it’s kind of a no-win issue. All of which, in turn, makes the whole thing look like nothing but a scam to raise campaign contributions in a difficult election year.