Opinion

Chuck Schumer sics feds on Four Loko; competitors fund Schumer

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Food and Drink,Timothy P. Carney,Chuck Schumer

New York liberal Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer has waged a one-man crusade against alcohol products that struck him as too wild and crazy. His targets have included booze mixed with caffeine and powdered alcohol. It seems that the makers of more traditional alcoholic beverages happen to be big supporters of the senator.

Lalita Clozel at the Center for Responsive Politics has the tale:

Over the years, Schumer, a Democrat, has received more than $360,000 from PACs and individuals working in the beer, wine and liquor trades, making him the industry's twelfth favorite member of Congress, on par with several congressional leaders and presidential candidates. ...

The two alcohol companies whose lobbyists gave the most to Schumer in 2010 probably didn't mind his Four Loko crusade: SABMiller and Anheuser-Busch InBev had already bowed out of the caffeine-and-alcohol beverage trade in 2008. ...

Two years later, with Schumer on the warpath over Four Loko and similar drinks, the two companies hired a small army of lobbyists, who contributed to his campaign from their own pocket. Thirteen lobbyists for Anheuser-Busch InBev gave Schumer a total $18,000 and a team of five Elmendorf Ryan lobbyists hired by SABMiller together donated $10,700.

Let this be a reminder: Every time you see a politician pushing a regulation in the name of "consumer protection," ask yourself: "Which businesses would also be protected by this regulation?"

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