Lobbyist spending behind the Sunday sales push

Shannon McCaffrey and the Associated Press this weekend have a look at the spending behind the push to allow the Sunday sales of packaged alcohol in Georgia:

The Georgia Food Industry Association — which represents grocery stores — has taken on eight outside lobbyists to supplement its two person in-house staff. Among the heavy-hitters they’ve brought in is Pete Robinson, the well-connected former leader of the state Senate who also served on Gov. Nathan Deal’s transition team. The Publix supermarket chain has hired GeorgiaLink and John “Trip” Martin, a longtime fixture in the state Capitol lobbying corps.

[Jim] Tudor and his convenience stores have spent $1,618 feeding House members in the chamber so far this session, according to lobbying disclosure reports filed with the state. Across the rotunda, the food industry group has shelled out $1,693 to keep food and beverages flowing in the Senate. Those numbers will grow before the 40-day session ends.

Yet Tudor said he believes that educating legislators about the bill — rather than free doughnuts — has driven its success this year.

“It has a lot less to do with people’s stomachs than just an overall better understanding of this being a local option issue,” Tudor said.

Tudor added that he doesn’t lobby in the House anteroom and has been providing the meals for some 25 years, predating the five-year-old push for Sunday sales. Still, the special access irks some other longtime lobbyists.

“Nobody else gets to do it,” said Neil Herring, a veteran Sierra Club lobbyist.

Still, even outside the House and Senate anterooms, lobbyists involved in the Sunday sales fight have paid for private dinners and receptions for lawmakers.

Kathy Kuzava and Jason Bragg from the Georgia Food Industry Association reported spending $2,253 on additional meals and reception costs. Tudor chipped in another $1,536 on a reception.

Neither group reports the money as specifically endorsing the Sunday sales legislation, but that’s the highest-profile measure being sought by each group.

The actual dollars spent to push for Sunday sales are sometimes difficult to track because lobbyists do not report specifically what bill they are lobbying on behalf of.

Martin reported spending $7,867 on legislators so far this session — everything from $80 for snacks for Democratic Leader Stacey Abrams and her aides to $2,032 for commemorative books for the House Majority Caucus staff. The report does not specify any legislation being sought and lists only his firm GeorgiaLink rather than a particular client. Martin has a large roster of clients in addition to Publix.

Michael Mitchell, another Publix lobbyist, spent more than $3,300 on lawmakers including $219 for flowers to grace the lapels of each member in honor of International Women’s Day.

But one thing is clear from state disclosure reports: Members of the legislative black caucus — whose votes were in doubt — were courted aggressively, especially those in the state Senate where a close outcome was predicted.

Kuzava spent $163.93 on a meal for five black senators.

Tharon Johnson, who ran Kasim Reed’s campaign for mayor of Atlanta and is one of the grocery industry lobbyists, spent $375 on dinners for black lawmakers and tickets to the legislative black caucus dinner. Another grocery lobbyist, Rob Willis also reported spending on meals for several senators in the black caucus.

The father-son team of Ed and Stony McGill, who lobby for the state’s liquor stores, have poured $2,720 into receptions, dinners and hospitality suites for legislators. The spending including $250 on tickets to the legislative black caucus dinner.

“We were heavily lobbied. More so than on other issues,” said state Sen. Lester Jackson, a Savannah Democrat. “They tried to make an appeal to urban legislators and there was a thought that Sunday sales would have a special appeal to African-Americans.”

Nonetheless, Jackson voted against the bill, concerned it could put more intoxicated drivers on the road.

Overall, the caucus was split, with six for, six against and on excused.

This year’s onslaught may owe more to the executive branch than the legislative one. Former Gov. Sonny Perdue had threatened to veto Sunday sales for years but Deal has said he’ll sign the bill if it reaches his desk, casting it not as support, not for drinking, but for local control.

Religious groups that oppose Sunday sales complained they were outmatched by deep pocketed business interests.

“The votes went where the dollars were,” Georgia Christian Coalition President Jerry Luquire said.

“I have been to Las Vegas one time and the smell of greed overwhelmed me. That same smell was outside the Senate when they passed that bill,” he said.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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78 comments Add your comment

Edward

March 27th, 2011
11:10 am

“Nonetheless, Jackson voted against the bill, concerned it could put more intoxicated drivers on the road.”

Confirmed as an idiot. Nobody ever said one must possess the ability to reason and use logic in order to be elected.

“The votes went where the dollars were,” Georgia Christian Coalition President Jerry Luquire said.
“I have been to Las Vegas one time and the smell of greed overwhelmed me. That same smell was outside the Senate when they passed that bill,” he said.

Ah, I’m surprised he could smell anything over the stench of ignorance wafting off of his own self.

Tom

March 27th, 2011
11:17 am

Wow. Looks like lobbyists may (or….may not) have spent almost a couple of dollars for each member of the Facebook group “Georgians for Sunday Alcohol Sales”, the grassroots NON-LOBBYIST group that inundated their Senators and Reps with calls, emails and FB posts supporting SB10/HB69.

Mr. Luquire is being brazenly disingenuous on this topic (to put it nicely). With the veto threat gone, it was a strong grassroots push by ordinary folks who were unwilling to let legislators slide another year that got this done.

Beth

March 27th, 2011
11:21 am

Come on…if you are going to put dollars in here please do the math as well. $163 for a meal for 5 Senators comes out to around $32 per person including tax and tip. That’s how much a meal costs Downtown Atlanta at a restaurant that isn’t fast food. There is a lot worse going on under the Gold Dome than lapel flowers.

It is irresponsible for you to try and make this issue about money. This should be about the RIGHT for the PEOPLE to VOTE. One of the founding values of this country was the separation of church and state. Preventing alcohol sales on Sunday is nothing less that state support for fundamental Christians. Otherwise someone would be proposing that alcohol not be sold on another day of the week.

Christian Coalition – Prove to me that this isn’t about religion by suggesting that the non-alcohol sales day be changed to Tuesday and maybe we’ll believe your concern.

Dash Riptide

March 27th, 2011
11:31 am

Regardless of what the issue is, if you live in one of only a few states still doing something considered outdated or backwards elsewhere, odds are you’re going to look outdated or backwards advocating the status quo. I’m sure this will come as a shock to the Georgia Birther Flaggers for Blue Laws Facebook group.

SpaceyG on Twitter

March 27th, 2011
11:34 am

So all it takes is free food? Why don’t lobbyists just line the halls with a trough and pump in slop for the hogs? That way you don’t have to polish the silverware and get out the good china and crystal.

riff-raff

March 27th, 2011
11:36 am

What is wrong with these Idiots?If you want to drink all you have to do is go to a restaurant.I would rather someone get it go home than get hammered then drive home.

SpaceyG on Twitter

March 27th, 2011
11:45 am

Tom, this was an AP report. The AP pretends the Internet doesn’t exist. That way they can just kinda hope it will all go away one day.

Brenda

March 27th, 2011
11:50 am

With all due respect to the industry lobbyists, who are actually paid to push the issue, it languished under the Gold Dome for over 5 yrs. This year passage was expected to be easy because Governor Deal had made it well known that he would sign it. Then for whatever reason the Sunday Sales bill (SB 10) went into a coma.

It wasn’t until a group of UNPAID but dedicated and concerned citizens launched a Facebook campaign to revive and uncork SB 10 was there any forward action. In fact on Crossover Day, March 16th, it was the FB group “Georgians for Sunday Alcohol Sales” Local Control flyer that could be seen on the desk of most of the senators. IMHO, part of the reason SB 10 has been corked for so long is that the Legislators and the Lobbyist play games and have rules of engagement. “We the People” aren’t bound by those rules thus we play to win because the legislators are employed by the People and can be UNELECTED! (Source: http://www.facebook.com/sundaysales)

Jamie Dempsey

March 27th, 2011
12:12 pm

Meanwhile nearly SEVEN THOUSAND PEOPLE have rallied to support the bill, at NO COMPENSATION to themselves, and in several of our cases, AT THE EXPENSE OF OUR BUSINESS EARNINGS. . .taking time and profits away from our livelihoods, to spend time at the Capitol, in meetings and doing research on why legislators and lobbyists have not been able to perform what the people of Georgia have wanted (a CHOICE in the matter- for OR against), for several years.

One Senator put it best: and I paraphrase. . . “Someone who is going to drink on Sunday, is going to drink. You can either drink and drive (to a bar/restaurant and home) or you can drive and drink (to your grocery store, gas station etc, and take it home)”

PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY, PERSONAL CHOICE, PERSONAL FREEDOM. . . with a legal substance, in a legal outlet.

Different communities are going to have different views on this issue. The people of Georgia are DEMANDING that they be heard- for and against. . . LET THEM BE HEARD.

Contact me on Facebook, through http://www.facebook.com/sundaysales to get involved and have YOUR voice heard at the Dome.

Common Cause GA

March 27th, 2011
12:18 pm

We follow the money of lobbyists and campaign contributors to get the real deals of politics – follow us at http://www.CommonCauseGA.org or http://www.facebook.com/CommonCauseGeorgia

Tom

March 27th, 2011
12:32 pm

And let me add this as a point of clarification on the article….

Ed & Stony McGill (mentioned in the article) lobby on behalf of the Georgia Alcohol Dealers Association (liquor STORES)…..which was OPPOSED to the legislation.

Just ONE of the meals Stony McGill reported was $680 at Bones….for how many Senators? Four. McKoon, Shafer, Staton, Jeffares.

Tom

March 27th, 2011
12:33 pm

Sorry….that should be $580, not $680.

beachwriter

March 27th, 2011
12:56 pm

The 8 million pound elephant in the room on this topic STILL is the question of why one particular LEGAL product, alcohol, is singled out for different treatment than all other LEGAL products. No one seems to want to step up and answer this question. As to the liquor lobby (Georgia Alcohol Dealer Association), their stance against Sunday sales MAKES NO SENSE. Nothing in SB10 REQUIRES anyone or store to be open and sell alcohol on Sundays. It’s a pure and simple business decision – if you think you can make money by opening your package store on Sunday, then by all means do so. If it will cost you money to open on Sunday, then don’t. IT’S JUST THAT SIMPLE. Chick-Fil-A has a corporate policy to close on Sundays and their business is doing just fine, thank you. So the liquor store lobby is just blowing smoke on this issue.

Tom

March 27th, 2011
1:01 pm

Then, of course, you have lobbyists like Kay Godwin of Blackshear and Pat Tippett of Baxley, co-founders of “Georgia Conservatives in Action”…a misleading name if there ever was one. Both ladies were on the Board of Directors of Moonbat Sadie’s “Georgia Christian Alliance” and founded this new uber-Christian organization with the secular-sounding name to lobby for the attempted legislating of morality.

Funny how they spend so much of the legislative session in Atlanta under the Gold Dome but apparently don’t “spend” any money lobbying, per their disclosures. Luckily for them, lobbyist reporting doesn’t place price tags on threatening legislators with primary opposition (not to mention eternal damnation) if they vote in favor of local control.

tom

March 27th, 2011
1:47 pm

I can’t believe in this day and age with exorbitant unemployment and financial peril across the board-this seems so trivial, let the people vote on it and be done with it.
All the lobbying by pro sunday sales shouldn’t have to be and the anti sunday sales people should not force others to follow in their ways. Besides the extra tax revenue would be a boost, elbeit not tremendous, to our floundering state economy

Inman Park Boy

March 27th, 2011
1:57 pm

I respect any point of view on this topic, but in the end there is no reason (ie, “rationale”) not to sell alcohol on Sundays. Why not add in Tuesdays as well? Sorry, it is just that silly.

td

March 27th, 2011
2:38 pm

Inman Park Boy

March 27th, 2011
1:57 pm

There is a quiet a number of reasons to reduce the access to alcohol as much as possible. They include but are not limited to the impact on the family, the harm to an individual and the hidden cost to the state. But alas we have decided in our infinite wisdom that we need to be able to drink 7 days per week, 24 hours a day and be damned with the consequences. Well go at it and maybe one day enough of you will wake up and see the real harm you have done to your family, your self and how much it has cost the state to pay for your irresponsible behavior.

You and your is used as a generic term representing the whole drinking community and does not mean you specifically.

Rou Lette

March 27th, 2011
2:42 pm

Lobbyists should be banned by law. Legislators are bribed to pass whatever pays them the most. How do you think Panoz got his law passed 20 years ago so that wine could be peddled on Sunday IF it was manufactured on the site where it was to be sold?

Brenda

March 27th, 2011
2:44 pm

Anything about Sunday sales of alcohol is sure to bring out the astro turf. Nothing about the issue in the election campaign but, if you actually believed that the blogs on the AJC were real people, you would think this is the most important issue to the voters of Georiga.

But I don’t believe that at all. I believe it’s important to a few people and to some very powerful people with money.

red herring

March 27th, 2011
3:05 pm

you are mistaken if you think the grocery and convenience store lobbies didn’t control this vote.
in this case it may not have much of an effect on the average citizen but in many cases these laws influenced by lobbyists do have an adverse effect on citizens. our representatives, senators, and governor should be elected by the people to do the people’s business and should not be allowed to be influenced by outside interests. sad to say that’s just not the case anymore and is one of the reasons the nation and many states are flat out broke.

Tom

March 27th, 2011
3:11 pm

red, you mean in the manner in which deep-pocket folks like liquor store owner Richard Tucker have kept this legislation stalled this many years?

I sang Dixie...

March 27th, 2011
3:19 pm

Finally, brother Sonny, the talibaptist, won’t threaten this bill. we should have had the chance to vote on this years ago.

insider

March 27th, 2011
3:34 pm

Anyone else think it’s funny that the likker lobbyist is named “Stoney”?

UpU.S.tooter

March 27th, 2011
3:35 pm

One more confirmation that our GA law-makers are hogs slopped at the lobbyist feeding trough, and the lobbyists are writing the legislation; i.e., one Republican Senator bragging on a “NRA Bill” he was supporting.

Ban Pork Too - its the Christian thing to do

March 27th, 2011
3:47 pm

If you are going to ban alcohol then why not ban pork too? Bible thumpers should take note. It says,

“And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be cloven footed, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you”.
“Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcass shall ye not touch, they are unclean to you.” [Leviticus 11:7-8] Pork is also prohibited in the Bible in the book of Deuteronomy
“And the swine, because it divideth the hoof, yet cheweth not the cud, it is unclean unto you. Ye shall not eat of their flesh, nor touch their dead carcass.” [Deuteronomy 14:8]
A similar prohibition is repeated in the Bible in the book of Isaiah chapter 65 verse 2-5.

According to the bible, Jesus and his friends took a herd of innocent pigs that were not theirs, cast demons into them before destroying them all. He was quite lucky that he wasn’t thrown in jail for theft or off the cliff to join the swine.

Moral to the story: if you want something that is not yours first demonize it. (in this case it is taking others rights from them). Find a group to sympathize with your cause then go ahead and destroy it. This makes it okay and the ‘Christian thing to do’.

jabster

March 27th, 2011
3:57 pm

The biggest opponent to Sunday package sales is the liquor store owners (@Tom, you are correct), not the Ga. Baptist Convention or the Ga. Christian Coalition.

If you don’t think liquor store owners are powerful, why do Total Wine and Costco only have 2 stores in the whole state that sell liquor? Because of the liquor store owners keeping the law in place limiting an owner to two licenses. It takes a lot of power to keep the big box stores out.

c-bear

March 27th, 2011
4:25 pm

The State of Georgia should sign the law allowing all alcohol sales in all counties and towns alike to sell if they choose to do so. If you don’t want to buy it DON’T. Across the board, it should be legal everywhere inside the borders of Georgia whether or not some are against it. All or nothing. Now grow up and quit your damn whining!

Alabama Communist

March 27th, 2011
4:35 pm

“I have been to Las Vegas one time and the smell of greed overwhelmed me.*Christian Moral Minority Republican Leader

No doubt the Leader has never been to Wall Street to see real greed in action for his party……..

puff

March 27th, 2011
4:37 pm

This is an ideal issue for local determination. The principle should be applied more often.

jd

March 27th, 2011
4:45 pm

WIth the new ethics bill, mega lobbyists won’t have to register at all — only if they spend 10% or more of their time for a particular client… imagine with 30 clients that won’t happen.

AT&T and Direct TV should be disclosing what they are spending on ads on their own networks which are generating thousands of calls to legislators regarding tax reform — bet you won’t see that.

freidenker

March 27th, 2011
4:53 pm

won’t celebrate ’til i push that yes button in the voting booth. no one has mentioned, directly, that this is a first amendment issue: freedom FROM religion. luquire and his ilk should ‘focus on their own family’ and leave others alone. all my religious friends have much larger problems than a beer on sunday. again, freedom FROM religion.

MrLiberty

March 27th, 2011
4:54 pm

We shouldn’t have to beg to massa’ for our freedoms. The GA legislature is a totalitarian regime that cares nothing about freedom. In 2011, the right to buy anything should never be impeded by government, so long as the transaction does not involve fraud, force, or theft. But then everything that involves government involves all of those things, so why should we be surprised that they are afraid of freedom.

td

March 27th, 2011
4:54 pm

Alabama Communist

March 27th, 2011
4:35 pm
“I have been to Las Vegas one time and the smell of greed overwhelmed me.*Christian Moral Minority Republican Leader

No doubt the Leader has never been to Wall Street to see real greed in action for his party……..

Wall street were the biggest contributors to Dems my friend. Go back and look at the amount of money spent for Obama compared to McCain. If Wall street was not for Dems then NY would not have 2 Dem US Senators and a Dem governor. You lbs really should read a little more and not believe what you hear on MSNBC.

td

March 27th, 2011
5:02 pm

MrLiberty

March 27th, 2011
4:54 pm
We shouldn’t have to beg to massa’ for our freedoms. The GA legislature is a totalitarian regime that cares nothing about freedom. In 2011, the right to buy anything should never be impeded by government, so long as the transaction does not involve fraud, force, or theft. But then everything that involves government involves all of those things, so why should we be surprised that they are afraid of freedom

That is a BS argument and you know it. You and I do not have the right to go out and buy prescription drugs just because we want them. Alcohol is a controlled substance just like prescription drugs and as such is regulated. You have to be 21 to buy it. You do not have the right to buy f you are already intoxicated. You can not buy it from a person standing on a street corner. You have to have a license for the state to be able to sell the substance.

findog

March 27th, 2011
5:27 pm

What can you say about every td post,”That is a BS argument and you know it,”
then again his nanny-state argument against Sunday sales says it all

AA

March 27th, 2011
5:32 pm

As the wife of an alcoholic, I wish alcohol were banned everywhere, though I know that will never happen. I have attened Al-anon and seen the number of people that have been damaged as a result of living with an alcoholic mother, father, sister, brother, spouse. Children come to Al-anon years as adults, still reeling from the hurt they suffered. Parents come grieving over children killing themselves with alcohol. Wives come, seeking a way to help their spouse. Watch someone go through withdrawal, having tremors, shakes, hallucinations. See the effects of alcohol on their bodies. My husband can find a drink anytime my wants–Monday, Tuesday, or Sunday. He had 9 years of sobriety, and then started back and can’t stop. His father started him drinking early in life, taking him for pizza, and ordering him a beer. While my husband was cutting grass as a child, his Dad would come to the front porch and pop a beer can–and laugh when he saw his son run for a beer. Little did he know that he started his son on a life time struggle with alcoholism. Alcohol is not an innocent substance. Ask Mothers against Drunk Drivers. Ask the families of alcoholics. Ask the alcoholic. Ask the doctors who treat them. Ask their livers, their minds, their bodies.

td

March 27th, 2011
5:41 pm

findog

March 27th, 2011
5:27 pm
What can you say about every td post,”That is a BS argument and you know it,”
then again his nanny-state argument against Sunday sales says it all

Well Mr. findog. Is my statement true or not or do you just not want to hear the truth?

td is stupid

March 27th, 2011
5:44 pm

What law says I cant buy booze from a guy on the street.May I buy a cigar from a guy on the street- gotta be 21 to buy smokes ya know! you are right about one thing…cant buy some drugs w/out prescription…cuz stupid people write stupid laws…some men are weak , soft, and need leadership, men like you.

Do I really need a prescription for a snotty nose? Does my barber really need a piece of paper from the govt. to cut my hair? Mahaps stick her fingers in my ear a little& rub my shoulders-cuz she knows she will get a 10 dollar tip?
You are a stupid person.

td

March 27th, 2011
5:44 pm

AA

March 27th, 2011
5:32 pm

Amen, I have seen many of the situations you have described and there is a horrible cost to be paid. I pray that you are able to hang in there and find the path to sobriety for your husband again.

td

March 27th, 2011
5:50 pm

td is stupid

March 27th, 2011
5:44 pm

And you my friend is a great example of why we need intelligence test prior to voter registration.

td is stupid

March 27th, 2011
6:05 pm

is a great example?

Drunks against mad mothers

March 27th, 2011
6:22 pm

yeah, td is a little stupid

Drunks against mad mothers

March 27th, 2011
6:23 pm

Drunks against mad mothers

March 27th, 2011
6:28 pm

Just bought a .22 on the street, on Sunday!!! Crap, should I turn myself in?

td not stupid

March 27th, 2011
6:33 pm

Just misguided- wants to force his beliefs on everyone thu force of law. He aint the only one.Old men babbling all day about abortion, leftys calling for free stuff for everybody, And of course….Muslims

Jezel

March 27th, 2011
7:55 pm

Foolish thinking to believe lobbyist spending is behind the sunday sales referendum. The issue, in the end, boiled down to the fact that majority rules. We could not allow a few “thrown off” senators the power to rule against what the majority of Georgia wanted. The right to decide this issue at the local level. I do hope that this delivers a message to our elected officials…we do not care what YOU believe. You believe what your constituents tell you to believe.

Grassroots Babe

March 27th, 2011
7:59 pm

The logic behind Sunday sales is outdated and anti separation of Church and State. If you are going to make Sunday sales of alcohol illegal, then make all the vices illegal on Sunday–lottery sales, strip clubs, cigarette and tobacoo sales also!!!!

Diehard

March 27th, 2011
8:08 pm

“I have been to Las Vegas one time and the smell of greed overwhelmed me. That same smell was outside the Senate when they passed that bill,” said the head of the Christian Coalition. That was the smell of cheap cologne and hairspray, Jerry. You smell it every Sunday in Church.

Clinton "Skink" Tyree

March 27th, 2011
8:41 pm

The amazing thing to me is not that the politicians are willing to sell their vote — the surprising thing is how little it takes to buy their vote. That’s why I fled the Florida governor’s office and have hidden in the Everglades for all these years.