Craft Beer Makers Need to Spend More Money!

Florida's attempt to kill craft brewing almost succeeded because of... gasp... campaign money, a Montana think tank has found.

During the past five years, the biggest supporters of Senate Bill 1714, which would have required small beer makers to -- in effect -- pay twice for their own beer, invested almost twice as much in state political contributions as those who opposed the bill, according to a new study by the National Institute on Money in State Politics.

The bill died in the Florida House but will likely be back next year.

According to the center, the two biggest supporters of the bill, Florida beer wholesalers and Louis F. Bear -- gave a total of more than $48,000 to House and Senate candidates between 2008 and 2013. The biggest opponent of the bill, Beer Industry of Florida (a trade group), gave less than $28,000.

The biggest recipients of beer money were two Republican senators, former House Speaker John Thrasher and current Senate President Don Gaetz. Both voted for the bill. Indeed, Gaetz cited his friendship with Bear as a reason for the vote.

And Bear owns a Panhandle distributorship that seems to have a particular weakness for Budweiser and Stella Artois, if its Twitter account is any judge.

Opponents gave money to only one sitting senator, a paltry $500 to Republican Jack Latvala, who aggressively opposed the law.

So listen up, Funky Buddha, Cigar City, and Wynwood Brewing! You better start investing in politics or your days (and our good beers) are numbered.

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Chuck Strouse is the former editor in chief of Miami New Times. He has shared two Pulitzer Prizes and won dozens of other awards. He is an honors graduate of Brown University and has worked at newspapers including the Miami Herald and Los Angeles Times.
Contact: Chuck Strouse