Friday, March 06, 2009

Store Campaign All Liquored Up

Crain's Insider is reporting this morning (subscription only), that the liquor store lobby was behind a scurrilous Facebook campaign designed to drum up support for its astroturf, "Last Store Standing on Main Street" campaign: "The coalition of liquor stores fighting Gov. Paterson’s proposal to let supermarkets sell wine posted a photo on its Facebook page suggesting he is corrupt. The photo illustration showed Paterson accepting wads of cash from Neil Golub, president and CEO of the parent company of Price Chopper, which supports the plan. A spokeswoman for Mercury Public Affairs, which represents the liquor stores, says Mercury was unaware of the photo until being notified by the Insider and promptly had it taken down."

Ironically, while there is no record of Golub-a Republican donor for many years-giving Paterson a nickle, it is well known that the liquor store lobby has been very generous in stuffing campaign coffers; no sin in that, but the height of hypocrisy when these kinds of accusations are leveled at others: "Campaign finance records show Golub made no contributions to Paterson. (He did make many four-figure donations to Republicans, among them George Pataki, who was a Mercury client.)"

In addition to this Facebook controversy, Crain's also points out, with the help of wine spokesman Dave Vermillion, that the so-called law enforcement groups that have been listed in the liquor store effort may be simply creatures of Mercury's imagination: "Vermillion also says he cannot find any evidence that a group called Law Enforcement Against Drunk Driving existed prior to its participation in the liquor stores’ campaign. The group’s press contact, Gordy Warnock, works for Mercury’s government relations division. LEADD Chairman Dan Sisto says the group is new, but the idea for it predates the current debate."

So, while the plight of the local liquor store may be compelling for some, the questionable campaign on its behalf indicates that the over the top claims of future extinction-much like the faux Mercury campaign itself-need to be fully vetted for veracity before any of the claims are given credibility in the ongoing debate over wine in supermarkets.