Tuesday, August 31, 2010

More strangeness surrounding 1105

The Washington State Wire today reports on both the beer industry's $4+ million investment in "Protect Our Communities Beer Sales" NO on 1100/1105 campaign, as well as the bizarre donations from the backers of I-1105 to the No on 1105 campaign.

We noted last week that Young's Columbia, the northwest outpost of I-1105 sponsor Young's Market, also donated over $300,000 to state Beer and Wine Wholesalers PAC, which was regifted to "Protect Our Communities Beer Sales". In today's Wire article, I-1105's charming but excitable spokeswoman Charla Neuman dismissed the apparent contribution from Young's Columbia as "a complete and total error". She noted that the PDC report has since been corrected to show the donation coming from Columbia Distributing, and claimed that  Young’s Columbia and Columbia Distributing “are two separate companies.”

This doesn't hold water. Young's Columbia shares the same website with Columbia Distributing and describes itself as a
joint venture between Columbia Distributing and Young’s Market out of CA. They have a shared services agreement in that Young’s Columbia pays Columbia Distributing for warehouse, delivery, and administrative services on a per case basis. The agreement covers the entire states of WA and OR.
They also have the same offices and phone numbers. It's hard to believe that venture partners so closely joined at the hip would be making 6 and 7 figure investments on opposite sides of the same ballot initiative affecting them both.

The PDC still reports a smaller contribution from Young's Columbia to the Beer and Wine Wholesalers PAC on August 9. (see all contributions to the Beer and Wine PAC since July) According to the Secretary of State's corporation records, there are two entities registered in this state, Young's-Columbia of Washington, LLC and Young's-Columbia of Oregon, LLC. Both list as a Managers Young's Market executives Vern Underwood, John Klein and Dennis Hamann.

Not only that (and sorry we missed this last week), but the PDC also reports a $5,800 donation on Aug. 9 to the PAC from The Odom Corporation, jointly owned and affiliated with Southern/Odom, the other funder of I-1105.  This is all too cozy to be a coinkydink.

Finally, we were really surprised by Charla Neuman's quote to the AP last week:
I-1105 spokeswoman Charla Neuman said the best scenario would be for both initiatives to pass.

"The best of both could be merged," she said, saying that while I-1105 supporters want to keep the current three-tier system, the main point is to get an affirmative vote on privatization.
So the 1105 people have been playing all three sides here, at different times asking voters to pass 1105 and defeat 1100, pass both, pass neither.  Hmmm.

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