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Kentucky's Beer Battlers Topped Lobbying Expenses Early-On During Legislative Session

Edwin Lee/Creative Commons

The opposing sides of the 2015 beer battle topped the list of lobbying spending during the first two months of the Kentucky General Assembly, according recently released numbers from the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission.

Spending reports only become available a month later because of filing deadlines.

Anheuser-Busch, Kentuckians for Entrepreneurs & Growth and Kentucky Beer Wholesalers were among the top-five spenders during the session, dropping a combined $483,830 on lobbying expenses and advertising in January and February.

Anheuser-Busch unsuccessfully fought against a bill that will forbid out-of-state beer brewers from owning distributors in the state. With the backing of craft beer and local distributors, the bill was signed into law by Gov. Steve Beshear in early March.

Both Anheuser-Buschand Kentuckians for Entrepreneurs & Growth aired TV and radio advertisements across the state, with AB over doubling KEG's advertising dollars.

Anheuser-Busch says it will have to close the distributorships it owns in Louisville and Owensboro by the end of this year, but is still “reviewing its legal options,” saying that the law violates the Kentucky and U.S. Constitutions.

About $4.2 million was spent on lobbying in total. Here’s a rundown of the top spenders.

  • Anheuser-Busch Companies ($290,908, including $261,000 on advertising)
  • American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network ($132,453, including $104,000 on advertising)
  • Kentuckians for Entrepreneurs & Growth (KEG) ($117,085, including $97,500 on advertising)
  • Altria Client Services ($92,199)
  • Kentucky Beer Wholesalers ($75,837, including $50,000 on advertising)
  • AT&T ($68,955, including $23,089 on advertising)
  • Kentucky Chamber of Commerce ($64,840, including $4,477 on advertising)
  • Kentucky Hospital Association ($60,842)
  • Kentucky Retail Federation ($58,061, including $26,250 on “patch-through calls” from citizens to the legislative message center)
  • Kentucky Medical Association ($40,196)

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