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Costco pours another $3 million into liquor initiative
Posted by Melissa Allison
Costco Wholesale contributed $3 million in cash last week to a voter initiative it wrote that would push the state out of the liquor business, bringing its cash contributions for the measure to $9.6 million.
In addition, Costco has made in-kind contributions to Initiative 1183 of $1.4 million, bringing its total contributions to the campaign to more than $11 million. That’s the vast majority of the $11.2 million the campaign has raised.
I-1183 would privatize the state’s 328 liquor stores and its distribution system, allow big retailers to sell liquor and let them buy liquor directly from distilleries rather than going through distributors.
The measure also would make it easier for retailers to buy wine directly from wineries, by making it legal for retailers to negotiate for volume and other discounts and allowing them to warehouse the wine they buy rather than have it delivered to each of their stores individually.
Distributors do not like the idea of being bypassed, or of having a precedent set in Washington that might spread to other states.
Liquor and wine distributors have contributed most of the $7.4 million raised by the coalition against I-1183.
Last year, Costco was the primary backer for a similar voter initiative that raised $6.1 million. A second initiative from liquor and wine distributors last year, which would have kicked the state out of the liquor business but kept distributor power in place, raised $2.7 million.
Both were defeated by a coalition that outspent both campaigns with $9.2 million, most of it from the beer industry. I-1183 does not touch the state’s beer regulations.
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