Alcohol industry reaps rewards while California residents and government budgets sufferJune 30, 2010 No Comments
Last year, alcohol companies funneled more than $3 million dollars to key California legislative committee members, the Governor’s “Budget Reform Now” political action committee, and various lobbying efforts. Topping the list of Big Alcohol political influencers in 2009 were Anheuser-Busch InBev ($417,968), Wine Institute ($327,859), Diageo ($220,697), and MillerCoors ($190,000).
Especially egregious: Big booze bucks apparently influenced legislators who shot down a proposed increase in alcohol excise taxes and a proposed Charge for Harm mitigation fee to help offset the $8 billion that alcohol consumption costs state and local governments each year. As the state legislative leadership simultaneously ran up the multi-billion dollar state budget deficit, refused to agree on a budgetary solution, and crippled essential social service programs with cuts, the death of those two measures produced an ugly lose-lose outcome for California residents and governments. In the end, $1.4 billion to mitigate alcohol-related harm was left on the table.
In addition, legislators who accepted contributions from Big Alcohol sponsored forty-one bills on a variety of issues ranging from alcohol advertising to agriculture, utilities, labor, and other regulations. Each of the bills in one way or another improved corporate bottom lines at the expense of taxpayers, the government, and public health.
The biggest recipients of Big Alcohol largess included Daryll Steinberg (D-Sacramento, $84,700), Michael Villanes (R-Clovis, $62,450), Alberto Torrico (D-Fremont, $36,100), Curran Price (D-Los Angeles, $35,700), Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa, $32,620), Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima, $31,620), Tom Harman (R-Huntington Beach, $25,900), and Governor Schwarzenegger’s “Budget Reform Now” political action committee, which raked in $671,000.
Three million dollars of campaign donations and lobbying expenditures is a lot of money to most Californians. But for Big Alcohol, it represents the cheap cost of doing business: killing legislation that would have raised $1.4 billion to mitigate alcohol-related harm. While $3 million may have been a smart investment for the alcohol industry in 2009, it resulted in tragedy for California youth, communities, and government agencies.
To read the entire report, go to www.MarinInstitute.org.
Marin Institute protects the public from the impact of Big Alcohol’s negative practices and exposes the industry’s harmful actions in products, promotions and social influence, while supporting communities in their efforts to reject those harms.
Sarah Mart, MS, MPH, is Research&Policy Manager at Marin Institute, an organization that fights to protect the public from the impact of the alcohol industry’s negative practices. Marin Institute monitors and exposes the alcohol industry’s harmful actions related to products, promotions and social influence, and supports communities in their efforts to reject those damaging activities.