The Virginia Beer Wholesalers Association has donated nearly $5 million dollars to various political candidates and committees on both sides so the aisle since 1996. The reason – to make sure they get to keep doing their thing, which is selling and distributing beer and liquor wholesale in Virginia. This plays quite well into the interests of the Global Beer Industrial Complex.
For those who don’t know, here’s how beer gets from the brewer to your mouth in most US states. Brewers brew beer but are not allowed to sell it directly to drinkers. Instead, they are required to sell it to licensed Wholesalers or Distributors who are also not allowed to sell directly to the consumer but are only allowed to sell it to bars and liquor stores, or grocery stores, or other licensed retail outlets. These places are allowed to sell to you the drinker. Additionally, the retail outlets are not allowed to buy directly from the breweries in most cases. This odd middleman arrangement came about at the end of Prohibition when the states were allowed to set their own rules and regulations with respect to selling liquor. Each state’s rules are a little different and some are very different (Utah has state-owned liquor stores) but this is generally the way it works in most states.
This kind of arrangement allows the state to license, regulate, and tax 3 different entities (brewers, distributors, and retail establishments) which prevents monopolies and tax fraud. Before Prohibition, many brewers delivered straight to bars that they also owned. Bars that sold only one brand. It was much easier for such arrangements to fudge the numbers when it came time to pay taxes and some of them certainly did.
Today, the states usually require each taxable entity to report the volume of sales as well as purchases and compare them against each other to make sure all the beer brewed gets taxed several times before you get to drink it. An arrangement that virtually eliminates tax fraud. It also created a hugely profitable sector of the Beer Industrial Complex. The Distributor/Wholesaler. These companies make tons of profit and want to continue to do that, so they donate generously to any political cause that can help them. It was like pulling teeth in many states to change the laws so that micro-breweries could also benefit from distribution and sell their products at Brewpubs and Taprooms.
Here’s an excellent article that shows how the Virginia Beer Wholesalers Association has influenced politics (and your beer) over the last few decades.