Monday, February 8, 2010

Tax break for liquor company at center of ABC Board controversy

Posted By on Mon, Feb 8, 2010 at 3:27 PM

Turns out Diageo isn't just stirring things up in Mecklenburg County, the London-based liquor company is stirring the pot in Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico, too.

A transfer of billions of dollars in federal aid from public projects in Puerto Rico to one of the world's largest liquor conglomerates over the next 30 years continues to move forward without any objection from Congress.

As a result, money that's now being used to build schools and restore tropical forests in a U.S. territory is being turned into what is essentially a $3 billion tax break for London-based Diageo, whose $20 billion in sales last year were powered by Dom Pérignon, Captain Morgan and other popular brands.

Diageo's windfall at Puerto Rico's expense wouldn't be possible were it not for pricey lobbyists, the complexity of the nation's tax laws and Congress's ability to approve politically embarrassing deals with a sleight of hand that leaves little trace.

On K Street, Diageo has an in-house team of lobbyists that was paid $2.25 million last year. Diageo also has the help of DLA Piper, one of the world's largest legal and lobbying firms, which has an office seven blocks from the U.S. Capitol. Last year, Diageo paid DLA Piper $770,000 to lobby on this and other issues.

Read the rest of this ProPublica article, by Marcus Stern, here.

What liquor products does Diageo sell? Too many to list here. Here's the brand list from their Web site.

Here's one of the company's recent commercials:

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