U.S. alcohol distributors bankroll scores of lobbyists and give millions of dollars in political contributions to protect the post-Prohibition regulations that guarantee their business and give them wide-ranging power over Americans’ drinks.
Alcohol makers have been chipping away at the hold that wholesalers have over the distribution of their products. At least 22 states had bills in 2015 seeking to allow alcohol makers to circumvent distributors and sell their products directly to customers.
Distributors’ alliances had at least 315 registered lobbyists this year, spread across every state and the District of Columbia, except Wyoming.
Distributors gave roughly $14.6 million to state candidates, parties and ballot issue groups in the 2014 elections, far more than the $5.3 million given by alcohol manufacturers and roughly $2 million from retailers.
Wholesalers contribute mostly to state campaigns, in 2014 giving double the approximately $5.9 million that they gave for congressional contests.