Cash haul in liquor initiative battle tops $18 million

  • By Jerry Cornfield
  • Thursday, October 13, 2011 9:11am
  • Local News

Opponents in this year’s battle over privatizing sales of hard liquor are spending nearly $4 million more than they did a year ago on the same subject – and there’s still almost a month to go in the campaign.

As of this morning, supporters and foes of Initiative 1183 collected a combined $18,642,347, according to online records of the state Public Disclosure Commission.

If passed, the measure requires the state to close its liquor stores, shut down its distribution system and sell off its warehouse full of booze. As written, the measure puts the private sector in the driver’s seat and aims to limit sales to locations with at least 10,000 square feet of retail space. Existing contract stores do get grandfathered in and the measure does allow licensing of small markets and mini-marts to sell liquor in communities without a big retailer.

Costco, the political and financial force behind the ballot measure, is in for roughly $11 million in cash and in-kind contributions. That’s out of a total of $11.2 million raised by the Yes on 1183 forces.

Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America is the leading check writer for the opposition campaign with contributions totaling $5.8 million. Protecting Our Communities, the coalition fighting the measure, has taken in a total of $7.4 million.

For Costco, it is spending nearly twice as much this year as it did last year trying to pass Initiative 1100. As a result, those same distributors may be forced to spend more than they did a year ago to win.

In 2010, the two sides spent a combined $14.96 million with Costco putting up roughly $6 million and the distributors carrying the financial load of the opposition’s $8.9 million campaign.

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