Posts Tagged ‘open secrets’

Tobacco’s Demise in Washington

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013 by Geoffrey Lyons

OPENSECRETS BLOG recently sketched an unlikely comparison between the political influence of big tobacco and that of education. While the former’s command in Washington has largely waned since the 90’s, the opposite can be said of the education “industry.” Both have gradually become more partisan, tobacco leaning increasingly to the right, and education to the left.

So what actually happened to tobacco?  Its demise is explained thusly:

In most election cycles between 1992 and 2002, the majority of the industry’s contributions came in the form of soft money. When the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 banned those contributions beginning with the 2004 cycle, tobacco dropped from 41st to 66th among industries in terms of overall donations, and to this day has not recovered.

Yet records of annual lobbying expenditures indicate a decline that originates well before 2004:


1998 was, after all, what might be considered a watershed year for tobacco.  The massive settlement between “Big Tobacco” and 46 attorneys general demanding remuneration for tobacco-related health costs was a huge blow to the indsutry, and included provisions that limited its lobbying activity.  For an alphabetical list of industry profiles, visit

Beer Industry Infighting Returns to Congress

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013 by Geoffrey Lyons

POLITICO AND THE HILL have recently reported on the Small Brewer Reinvestment and Expanding Workforce Act (Small BREW), and how it is becoming the focal point of an advocacy battle between big-name beers and their smaller counterparts. POLITICO notes that “the Craft Brewers Association sent 243 of its members to Capitol Hill this week to lobby [for the bill…]” which, according to OpenSecrets, the association’s leader (Bob Pease) is calling “the biggest-ever lobby day — setting up meetings for 250 brewery owners with 90 Senate and 250 House offices.”

The aim of Small BREW, which has just recently been revived after its introduction in 2011,  is to “amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide for a reduced rate of excise tax on beer produced domestically by certain small producers.”  “If enacted,” according to the Hill:

…the Small BREW Act would cut the federal excise tax on beer from $7 a barrel to $3.50, which is placed on a small brewer’s first 60,000 barrels produced per year. After that initial 60,000 barrels, small brewers must pay $18 per barrel, which would be lowered to $16 under the bill.

The Beer Institute, whose members include corporate mammoths like Heineken USA, MillerCoors, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., and Anheuser-Busch, is opposed to the bill on the grounds that it divides the industry.  It instead supports an alternative measure – the Brewer’s Employment and Excise Relief (BEER) Act – which would lower excise taxes on all brewers, not just the small ones.  But whereas The Beer Institute will “actively oppose” Small BREW, the Brewers Association supports both bills.  It just prefers its own.