by Jon Sanders
Director of the Center for Food, Power, and Life, Research Editor, John Locke Foundation
There’s a fun article today in The News & Observer, you know, the Raleigh newspaper that can affect a zero-tolerance-sounding policy for special interests and the General Assembly when it comes to legislators and the American Legislative Exchange Council (as opposed to legislators and the National Association of State Legislatures) and can make self-righteous noises against legislation that would favor corporations at the expense of individuals (unless they’re Good Corporations, like solar energy companies and film productions).
The article, by reporter John Frank, raises a glass to the annual party for politicians put on by N.C. Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association. It’s a great thing, which everybody loves:
The soiree hosted by the N.C. Beer and Wine Wholesalers Association draws lawmakers, lobbyists, state officials and plenty of staffers to a historic house near the governor’s mansion for barbecue and beer. Of the many receptions throughout the legislative session, the growler party is one of the most popular.
“We like to think it’s the social event of the year on the legislative calendar,” said Tim Kent, the association’s executive director and lobbyist.
(For me, it’s a can’t miss – combining my “day job” covering politics for the newspaper and my “night job” writing about craft beer.)
A more skeptical, journalistic approach to a lobbyists’ boozefest for lawmakers might be less celebratory and more concerned about cronyism. Legislators looking forward to the “social event of the year” might not wish to cross the lobbyists hosting it on such topics as, for example, ABC reform or allowing Red Oak Brewery, with its specially processed beer, to distribute its beer properly.
Both of those reforms would increase competition in the industry, which is certainly counter to the established interests in beer and wine who have successfully blocked them.
As I wrote in my report on Carolina Cronyism, the media play a key role in preventing cronyism, but only if they choose to fill it. Here, however, we have an example of media choosing to have a glass filled instead.