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Tuesday, January 06, 2015

The Scandal That Wasn't

Tony Magee
Last week, Guys Drinking Beer posted a most intriguing take on a $25,000 donation Lagunitas made to the election campaign of Chicago mayor Rahm Imanuel.
Lagunitas Brewing Company cut a check to Rahm Emanuel’s re-election campaign for $25,000. It certainly isn’t the brewery’s first contribution to a political candidate but is the most sizable contribution and the second time this year it’s dropped 25k on a politician.
It wasn't the only check the brewery mailed out to politicos:
In July, Lagunitas cut a $25,000 check to incumbent governor Pat Quinn (who lost to Republican Bruce Rauner). In September Lagunitas dropped over 10k on Alderman Patrick O’Connor. $9,225 of that was an individual contribution while another $1,275 was an “in kind” contribution of beer and appetizers — most likely for a fundraiser. Alderman O’Connor, who represents the 40th ward on the north side, is Mayor Emanuel’s floor leader.

And then there’s the Christmas Eve contribution of $25,000 to the mayor’s campaign. It brings the total amount contributed by Lagunitas to Chicago politicians, since July, to $60,500.
For the most part, the incident seemed to garner very little attention. Things like this were rare. Lagunitas's Tony Magee has 20,000 followers, yet when he discussed the matter on Twitter, just a few people responded.  (Mostly about how they hated Rahm, it seems.)  Given the scrutiny beer geeks give breweries, I was surprised by this.  Politics is messy and ugly.  There's always an aroma of quid pro quo about political donations--how could it be otherwise?--and that's the kind of thing beer geeks hate.

Having formally written about politics, this not only doesn't surprise me, it makes a ton of sense.  To ignore the realities of politics--which is to say the realities of public policy that affect things like zoning, distribution laws, taxation, etc--is crazy short-sighted.  And brewers have become much more politically engaged and politically savvy.  But still; I'm surprised it wasn't a bigger story.


  1. It would have been a bigger story if they contributed to some right winger or tea party candidate. Good to know that most craft beer drinkers are liberals.

  2. Emanuel *is* a right winger in any ways that matter. He has done more to mutliate unions in a formerly union state than any GOP shill has in the last 15 years. It should be no coincidence that the often anti-union craft brewers choose to go to a location that's privatized even their freaking parking meters.

    Granted, three-tier law has made a convoluted mess of things, but let's not pretend that Emanuel is some kind of progressive saint here. We don't know what "red tape" exactly got cleared, and the fact that this appears to be clearing "red tape" for favors makes this even more repellent:

    "I support things that support us. They all did. Same as we support hundreds of non-profits&arts orgs all over. Twasnt payola, Twas gratitude"

    This is an absolute simpleton attitude that somehow makes it worse for me. "Gratitude" for "cutting through bureaucracy" is pretty much the dictionary definition for "corruption."

    No, it doesn't surprise me either, but Magee's frankly obtuse attitude on the matter does.

  3. The union system is broken in my opinion though I wont go as far as to say they are bad. I do think it's inappropriate to suggest some red tape or favors were done when there is no evidence at all to back that claim up. If there is then I have not seen it.

  4. I have no opinion on the issue at hand except to say that I'm not surprised to hear a brewery is actively involved in politics.

    As far as the "union system is broken"--I agree, in that there effectively isn't one. The laws protecting the right to organize have been gutted, and the rights to break unions strengthened. It's why we're dead last in union membership and coverage among wealthy countries.

  5. He says it right there, Samurai: "Twasnt payola, Twas gratitude." If you don't see how fucked-up this attitude is, you're letting team sport politics get in the way.

    Gratitude for a politician that supports you is a bribe. It is the literal definition of cash-for-favors, but our modern system has it cloaked behind layers of "campaign finance" and "red tape." But let's not call the ugly truth anything other than what it is. And this is the very opposite of Magee's supposed "libertarian" attitude in all ways.

    Politicians are public servants. They represent the people. You shouldn't tip a cop every time he doesn't put you in a fatal chokehold, either.

  6. Emanuel (like the copied and pasted text), yo

    Frank Carper