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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Say No To: Smirnoff, Guinness, Dom Pérignon, Johnnie Walker, Baileys, Tanqueray & All Diageo Products



Where is my favorite Scotch and Vodka at Aroma Thyme?
Sorry if we do not carry your favorite wine, beer or spirit brand at Aroma Thyme. We do stock over 200 craft beers, 300 wines and 250 spirits of mostly independents.

We feel we have a good reason for not supporting some of the most popular brands.  In our most recent campaign we have eliminated all Diageo brands.  Diageo is massive company that has a terrible reputation among other producers, suppliers and employees. There is enough business for everyone without being a bully.

The main reason that Diageo is no longer at Aroma Thyme.
Diageo is a corporate board member of ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council). In a nutshell, these are the companies that write a good portion of our legislation.

More info on ALEC
Through the corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council, global corporations and state politicians vote behind closed doors to try to rewrite state laws that govern your rights. These so-called "model bills" reach into almost every area of American life and often directly benefit huge corporations. In ALEC's own words, corporations have "a VOICE and a VOTE" on specific changes to the law that are then proposed in your state. DO YOU?

On July 13, 2011, the Center for Media and Democracy unveiled this trove of over 800 "model" bills and resolutions secretly voted on by corporations and politicians through the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). These bills reveal the corporate collaboration reshaping our democracy, state by state.

ALEC bills, which largely benefit the organization’s corporate members, have been introduced in legislatures in every state but without disclosing to the public that corporations previously drafted or voted on them through ALEC.

Before our publication of this trove of bills, it has been difficult to trace the numerous controversial and extreme provisions popping up in legislatures across the country directly to ALEC and its corporate underwriters.

The Center obtained copies of the bills after one of the thousands of people with access shared them, and a whistleblower provided a copy to the Center.

We have analyzed and marked up the bills and resolutions to help readers understand what the bills do, beyond the PR in the names of bills. We share them to help the public identify the legislation in their state and the wide extent of the agenda to rewrite our rights by the corporations that bankroll ALEC.

These bills and resolutions reach into almost every area of American life: worker and consumer rights, education, the rights of Americans injured or killed by corporations, taxes, health care, immigration, and the quality of the air we breathe and the water we drink. Only by seeing the depth and breadth and language of the bills can one fully understand the power and sweep of corporate influence behind the scenes on bills affecting the rights and future of every American in every single state.

ALEC is not a lobby; it is not a front group. It is much more powerful than that.
Through ALEC, behind closed doors, corporations hand state legislators the changes to the law they desire that directly benefit their bottom line. Along with legislators, corporations have membership in ALEC. Corporations sit on all nine ALEC task forces and vote with legislators to approve model bills. They have their own corporate governing board which meets jointly with the legislative board. (ALEC says that corporations do not vote on the board.) Corporations fund almost all of ALEC's operations. Participating legislators, overwhelmingly conservative Republicans, then bring those proposals home and introduce them in statehouses across the land as their own brilliant ideas and important public policy innovations without disclosing that corporations crafted and voted on the bills. ALEC boasts that it has over 1,000 of these bills introduced by legislative members every year, with one in every five of them enacted into law. ALEC describes itself as a unique, unparalleled and unmatched organization. We agree. It is as if a state legislature had been reconstituted, yet corporations had pushed the people out the door.

Who funds ALEC? More than 98% of ALEC's revenues come from sources other than legislative dues, such as corporations, corporate trade groups, and corporate foundations. Each corporate member pays an annual fee of between $7,000 and $25,000 a year, and if a corporation participates in any of the nine task forces, additional fees apply, from $2,500 to $10,000 each year. ALEC also receives direct grants from corporations, such as $1.4 million from ExxonMobil from 1998-2009. It has also received grants from some of the biggest foundations funded by corporate CEOs in the country, such as: the Koch family Charles G. Koch Foundation, the Koch-managed Claude R. Lambe Foundation, the Scaife family Allegheny Foundation, the Coors family Castle Rock Foundation, to name a few. Less than 2% of ALEC’s funding comes from Membership Dues of $50 per year paid by state legislators, a steeply discounted price that may run afoul of state gift bans.

What goes on behind closed doors? The organization boasts 2,000 legislative members and 300 or more corporate members. The unelected corporate representatives (often registered lobbyists) sit as equals with elected representatives on nine task forces where they have a voice and a vote on model legislation. Corporations on ALEC task forces VOTE on the "model" bills and resolutions, and sit as equals with legislators voting on the ALEC task forces and various working groups. Corporate and legislative governing boards also meet jointly each year. (ALEC says only the legislators have a final say on all model bills. ALEC has previously said that "The policies are debated and voted on by all members. Public and private members vote separately on policy. It is important to note that laws are not passed, debated or adopted during this process and therefore no lobbying takes place. That process is done at the state legislature.") The long-term representation of Koch Industries on the governing board means that Koch has had influence over an untold number of ALEC bills. Due to the questionable nature of this partnership with corporations, legislators rarely discuss the origins of the model legislation they bring home. Though thousands of ALEC-approved model bills have been publicly introduced across the country, ALEC’s role facilitating the language in the bills and the corporate vote for them is not well known.

(ALEC legislators sometimes compare the organization to the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL), yet the two organizations could not be more different. NCSL has zero corporate members. It is funded largely by state government appropriations and conference fees; it has a truly bipartisan governance structure, and there is a large role for nonpartisan professional staff; it does not vote on or promote model legislation; meetings are public and so are any agreed upon documents. Corporations do sponsor receptions at NCSL events through a separate foundation.

How do corporations benefit? Although ALEC claims to take an ideological stance (of supposedly "Jeffersonian principles of free markets, limited government, federalism, and individual liberty"), many of the model bills benefit the corporations whose agents write them, shape them, and/or vote to approve them. These are just a few such measures:
Altria/Philip Morris USA benefits from Alec’s newest tobacco legislation -- an extremely narrow tax break for moist tobacco that would make fruit flavored tobacco products cheaper and more attractive to youngsters.
Health insurance companies such as Humana and Golden Rule Insurance (United Healthcare), benefit directly from ALEC model bills, such as the Health Savings Account bill that just passed in Wisconsin.
Tobacco firms such as Reynolds and pharmaceutical firms such as Bayer benefit directly from ALEC tort reform measures that make it harder for Americans to sue when injured by dangerous products.
Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) benefits directly from the anti-immigrant legislation introduced in Arizona and other states that requires expanded incarceration and housing of immigrants, along with other bills from ALEC’s crime task force. (While CCA has stated that it left ALEC in late 2010 after years of membership on the Criminal Justice Task Force and even co-chairing it, its prison privatization bills remain ALEC "models.")
Connections Academy, a large online education corporation and co-chair of the Education Task Force, benefits from ALEC measures to privatize public education and promote private on-line schools.

Is it lobbing? In most ordinary people's view, handing bills to legislators so they can introduce them is the very definition of lobbying. ALEC says "no lobbying takes place." The current chairman of ALEC’s corporate board is W. Preston Baldwin III, until recently a lobbyist and the Vice President of State Government Affairs at UST Inc., a tobacco firm now owned by Altria/Phillip Morris USA. Altria is advancing a very short, specific bill to change the way moist tobacco products (such as fruit flavored œsnus) are taxed-- to make it cheaper and more attractive to young tobacco users according to health experts. In fact, 20 of the 24 corporate representatives on ALEC Private Enterprise Board are lobbyists representing major firms such as Koch Industries, Bayer, GlaxoSmithKline, Wal-Mart and Johnson and Johnson.

ALEC makes old-fashioned lobbying obsolete. Once legislators return to their state with corporate-sponsored ALEC legislation in hand, the legislators themselves become super-lobbyists for ALEC corporate agenda, cutting out the middleman. Yet ALEC enjoys a 501(c)(3) classification, which allows it to keep its tax-exempt status while accepting grants from foundations, corporations, and other donors. In our view, the activities that corporate members engage in should be considered lobbying by the IRS, and the entity that facilitates that effort to influence state law, ALEC, should also be considered to be engaged predominantly in lobby-related activities, not simply educational activities. Re-classifying ALEC as primarily engaged in lobbying facilitation would mean that donations to it would not count as tax-deductible for businesses and foundations. Common Cause filed a complaint with the IRS on July 14, 2011, setting forth evidence supporting its complaint that ALEC is engaged in lobbying despite its claims to do no lobbying.



Here are some of the brands in the Diageo portfolio
Brandy/Cognac
Brandy-Bertrams VO
Cognac-Hennessy       

Gin
Gordon's Gin -
Tanqueray

Liqueurs
Baileys
Romana Sambuca       
Sheridan's

RUM
Bundaberg Rum   
Cacique Rum
Captain Morgan Rum   
Myers's Rum
Pampero Rum
Zacapa Rum

Malt Scotch Whisky
Caol Ila
Cardhu
Clynelish
Cragganmore
Dalwhinnie 

Schnapps
Archers

Spirit based Drinks
Pimm's

Tequila
Don Julio       
José Cuervo   

Vodka
Ketel One Vodka
Cîroc     
Smirnoff   

Whisk(e)y
Seagrams   
Bell's Original
Buchanan's 
Dimple/Pinch
J&B Blended
Johnnie Walker
Old Parr
VAT 69
White Horse
Windsor

Beers
Guinness
Harp lager
Kilkenny
Smithwick's ale
Tusker lager   
Red Stripe lager       
Senator Keg
Windhoek lager       
Bell
Serengeti Premium Lager
Meta

Wine
Chalone Vineyard
Blossom Hill
Justerini & Brooks
Piat d'Or
Rosenblum Cellars       

Champagne
Dom Pérignon
Moët & Chandon



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