Capitol Alert

A liquor company has given the most money to California lawmakers so far this year

Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits of Union City donated almost $136,000 to state lawmakers during the first three months of 2017, the most of any major donor, according to state filings.
Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits of Union City donated almost $136,000 to state lawmakers during the first three months of 2017, the most of any major donor, according to state filings. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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While California lawmakers were debating bills to raise the excise tax on liquor and relax booze rules at sports venues, a liquor company was the largest single donor to their campaign accounts.

Liquor companies, gambling tribes, utilities and other special interests donated more than $1.43 million to California lawmakers during the first three months of the legislative session, according to new disclosure reports filed with the state.

Lawmakers likely took in more money during that time, but no one will know exactly how much until the filing deadline for semiannual reports at the end of July.

Yet more than a hundred major donors – a person or entity that gives more than $10,000 a year – had to report their activity for the first quarter of 2017 on Monday. Those filings showed more than 650 contributions to members of the California Assembly and Senate.

The most active major donor was Union City-based Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits, which gave more than $149,000 to about three-dozen state lawmakers in March.

According to the company’s latest lobbying report, it focused on two bills during the first quarter of the year: Assembly Bill 479, which would raise the excise tax on hard alcohol to make up for the loss of revenue from a proposed sales tax exemption for tampons and diapers; and Senate Bill 56, which would loosen rules on advertising at sports entertainment facilities by beer, wine and liquor manufacturers.

The next-largest donors to lawmakers during the first part of 2017 were the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians, which runs a major casino near Temecula and gave $114,000 to lawmakers, and AT&T Corp., which donated almost $79,000.

The top legislative recipients of major donor money from January through March were Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, D-Los Angeles, who received $94,100; Assembly Republican Leader Chad Mayes of Yucca Valley, who received $52,400; Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, who received $40,300, and Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced, who received $34,700.

Major donors also gave heavily to the Democratic and Republican parties, trade groups’ political action committees, and 2018 candidates for statewide office, including Democratic gubernatorial candidates Gavin Newsom and John Chiang and Attorney General Xavier Becerra.

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