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  • Common Cause's study of donations from the alcohol industry, 1987-97

  •   Under the Influence: Alcohol Lobby's Political Gifts

    Monday, April 20, 1998; Page A17

    Top PAC and "soft money" contributors
    Top House recipients | Top Senate recipients

    The House Rules Committee vote late last month blocking House consideration of a measure to set a national drunken driving standard was motivated in part by Republicans' and Democrats' concerns over states' rights, constituents' objections to federal mandates and a reluctance to clash with special interests that contribute heavily to congressional campaigns.

    According to a report by Common Cause, which lobbies for tougher campaign finance laws, alcoholic beverage and related interests contributed more than $26 million to federal candidates and political parties from 1987 through 1997.

    The alcohol industry – including the National Beer Wholesalers Association and individual companies – and the National Restaurant Association have lobbied against stricter blood alcohol standards. Nearly $16 million of the lobby's political contributions went to Republicans, and about $10.2 million went to Democrats. The figures are based on reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

    While the House has not voted on the tougher drunken driving standard, the Senate approved it as part of its version of a six-year highway reauthorization bill. States would lose up to 10 percent of their federal highway money unless they enforced a drunken driving standard of 0.08 grams of alcohol per deciliter of blood.

    Conferees will begin this week to decide whether to include the tougher standard in a final bill or adopt the House approach of offering states financial incentives for using 0.08.

    Top PAC and "soft money" contributors, 1987-97:
    National Beer Wholesalers Organization $5,003,379
    National Restaurant Association 3,595,097
    Joseph E. Seagram & Sons Inc.* 3,518,684
    Anheuser-Busch Co.* 2,473,220
    Brown-Forman Corp.* 1,433,980
    Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America 1,068,655
    Harrah's Entertainment Inc. 982,741
    Outback Steakhouse Inc. 951,350
    Distilled Spirits Council of the United States 834,378
    Brinker International Inc./Chili's Grill & Bar 725,400


    * Includes contributions from subsidiaries and/or executives.

    Top House recipients
      From manufacturers and wholesalers From restaurants
     1. Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) $80,244 $82,999
     2. Vic Fazio (D-Calif.) 102,452 13,500
     3. Frank Riggs (R-Calif.) 71,629 28,000
     4. Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.) 84,508 8,500
     5. Robert T. Matsui (D-Calif.) 70,675 10,500

    Top Senate recipients
      From manufacturers and wholesalers From restaurants
     1. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) $77,672 $35,000
     2. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.) 22,250 77,500
     3. Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) 78,899 18,500
     4. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) 28,600 54,500
     5. Richard H. Bryan (D-Nev.) 62,145 17,750


    NOTE: Restaurant totals include contributions from the National Restaurant Association's PAC and donations from PACs of the 16 companies represented on the board of directors of the American Beverage Institute.


    SOURCE: Common Cause


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