Montgomery County Liquor Monopoly Repeal Creates Strange Allies, Adversaries

A few months ago I called for an end to the Montgomery County Liquor Monopoly. It remains a common sense correction to commerce in Montgomery County and gets the County out of a business where it doesn’t belong.

What’s amusing about that is the fact that I have now found common cause with both Peter Franchot and Bill Frick:

But the long, lucrative monopoly could be coming to an end. A bill sponsored by Del. C. William Frick (D-Montgomery) would ask voters to decide, through a referendum on the county’s 2016 ballot, whether establishments that sell alcohol can bypass the liquor control department to buy directly from private distributors. State Comptroller Peter Franchot (D) has said he intends to file similar legislation for the upcoming General Assembly session.

Frick and Franchot said they are responding to years of complaints from consumers and businesses about liquor control’s late deliveries and limited supply. While the agency has no trouble moving plenty of Miller Light and Kendall Jackson from its Gaithersburg warehouse to customers, owners say, it takes too long with fine wines and increasingly popular craft beers.

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Obviously we at Red Maryland are not big fans of Frick or Franchot, but they are absolutely correct that it’s time for the liquor monopoly to end in Montgomery County. While the referendum process may not be the best way to make this happen, it does give county residents a voice in getting the County out of the liquor business once and for all. A place it never belonged to start with.

So while I’m agreeing with left-wingers like Bill Frick and Peter Franchot, the unions have their pants in a bunch and are threatening drastic actions against those who wish to end the monopoly.

The employee union that represents more than 350 Montgomery County Department of Liquor Control (DLC) employees is asking a state government committee to investigate Del. Bill Frick (D-District 16) for possible ethics law violations….

….Gino Renne, the president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1994 MCGEO, which represents more than 8,000 government employees including the DLC workers, sent a letter Tuesday to state Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-District 20) and Del. Marvin Holmes, Jr. (D-District 23B) calling for the ethics investigation. Holmes and Raskin serve as the chairs of the Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics.

Renne writes that Frick and his family stand to profit from the legislation if it passes because Frick’s wife, Bethany Frick, works for Diageo North America—an arm of the international alcohol producer Diageo. Bethany Frick serves as a vice president of national accounts for Diageo, which produces well-known brands like Smirnoff vodka, Johnnie Walker whisky and Guinness beer. Renne adds that the Fricks’ ownership of stock in Diageo also raises ethical questions.

“I believe that Delegate Frick has violated the Public Ethics Law by proposing, sponsoring and championing legislation that would directly benefit himself and a close family member,” Renne wrote in the letter. “The Ethics Law prohibits the use of prestige for private gain.”

A copy of the letter is available on the MCGEO website.

Now I’m no lawyer, but there seems to be absolutely no logical way that the Frick family benefits from the ending of the county liquor monopoly, as the liquor licenses would not be owned by Diageo, nor is there any way to assume logically that Diageo would benefit substantially from the end of the monopoly. Though if there were, it would again prove how much the liquor industry is being held back by Montgomery County’s government controlled monopoly. If that’s the case that Renne is making, he may be cutting off his nose to spite his face.

Renne, though, did say this interesting nugget in the Bethesda Beat article:

“We’re going to overturn every rock in their lives to find out about their lifestyles and how those lifestyles are being supported,” Renne said.

Those union thugs are charming when their Democratic allies go rogue, aren’t they?

This story is going to get a lot more interesting as we head toward the General Assembly session and (hopefully) next fall’s referendum. There’s nothing better than the opportunity to assist the free market and to watch Democrat-on-Democrat political sparring during a time in which Maryland’s Democrats are already in disarray.

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