The Beer Fight: Georgia’s Casey Cagle Sides With Crony Capitalists

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Georgia is one of five states that prohibits craft beer brewers from selling their product to people touring the breweries. It seems like a no brainer and a win-win for everybody. A tourist tours a brewery, likes what they sample, takes home some beer, then goes to his local grocery store to buy more.

But that is illegal in Georgia. State Senator Hunter Hill seeks to change that. He has filed S.B. 63, which would allow brewers to sell up to a twelve pack of beer to people who come by the brewery. Again, Georgia is only one of five states that prohibits this.

In Georgia, a brewery must sell its product to a single wholesale distributor who then resells the beer to restaurants and retail locations. This is called a three-tier system and there are powerful interests who do not want any disruption, no matter how much common sense the change, to happen at all.

And they have Georgia’s Lt. Governor, Casey Cagle, in their pocket. Multiple Republican Senators in Georgia’s General Assembly tell me that Cagle himself is personally obstructing the legislation and placing pressure on the Regulated Industries Committee to stall a vote on the bill. The committee is set to meet next Wednesday.

In an examination of 2014 campaign contributions via Follow the Money, Cagle received $130,756.57 in contributions from the alcoholic beverage industry, with the bulk of it from wholesalers opposed to the legislation. Cagle received more in 2014 from the alcoholic beverage industry than any other member of state legislature. In fact, roughly 20% of that money came from just one family — the Leebern family connected to Georgia Crown Distributing.

For comparison, the Chairman of the Senate Regulated Industries Committee that will review S.B. 63, Senator Rick Jeffares, only received $4545.00 from the alcoholic beverage industry in 2014, according to Follow the Money. An overwhelming majority of Georgians support S.B. 63. It is common sense legislation, will actually create jobs, and brings Georgia in line with 90% of the other states.

Multiple Republican senators tell me Lt. Governor Casey Cagle is the chief obstacle to the legislation. Despite the overwhelming popularity of the legislation and its common sense approach, Cagle would rather side with donors than with voters. Below is the Follow the Money chart of Cagle’s 2014 contributions from the alcoholic beverage industry.

Election

Contributor

Total

2014

GEORGIA BEER WHOLESALERS ASSOCIATION

$12,600.00

2014

WINE & SPIRITS WHOLESALERS OF GEORGIA

$12,600.00

2014

LEEBERN JR, DONALD M

$12,600.00

2014

ANHEUSER-BUSCH

$11,000.00

2014

SAVANNAH DISTRIBUTING CO

$10,000.00

2014

EAGLE ROCK DISTRIBUTING CO

$8,800.00

2014

YOUNG JR, WILLIAM D

$7,200.00

2014

YOUNG, E. HOWARD

$7,200.00

2014

YOUNG, STEPHEN

$7,200.00

2014

LEEBERN, STACEY

$6,300.00

2014

LEEBERN, DONALD M

$6,300.00

2014

ATLANTA BEVERAGE CO

$5,000.00

2014

MILLERCOORS

$3,500.00

2014

NORTHEAST SALES DISTRIBUTING

$3,000.00

2014

GEORGIA RETAIL SPIRITS COUNCIL

$2,527.00

2014

DIAGEO

$2,500.00

2014

CHATEAU ELAN WINERY & RESORT

$2,500.00

2014

EVERS, HENK

$2,500.00

2014

AB BEVERAGE CO

$2,000.00

2014

MONSEES, HENRY

$1,429.57

2014

BIBB DISTRIBUTING CO

$1,000.00

2014

LEWIS, DAVID

$1,000.00

2014

DAVIS, JAY

$1,000.00

2014

PALMETTO BEVERAGE MANAGEMENT CORP

$500.00

2014

PEACHTREE ROAD LIQUOR STORE

$500.00

2014 TOTAL

$130,756.57



Source: Follow the Money

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Erick Erickson
By Erick Erickson

Erick Erickson

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