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Two sides in liquor battle raise a staggering $34M

on 24/10/11 at 9:37 am

Booze News

Costco has dumped a startling $22.5 million into the ballot proposal that would open liquor sales in Washington to big retailers, and the new record for donations to a single ballot campaign is getting some attention.

Foes of Initiative 1183 are using the big donations to say Costco is trying to buy the election. But the I-1183 opposition also has raised a whopping $11.7 million, most of it from national and state alcohol wholesalers.

Meanwhile, national distillers are running independent ads that say the measure is “flawed” and might not be good for consumers.

“When we hit $30 million in a place like Washington, this is off the charts,’’ said Todd Donovan, a political science professor at Western Washington University who has written books about the initiative process. “We’re into what would be an expensive initiative in California.”

Joel Benoliel, a senior vice president with Issaquah-based Costco, said the company contributed the last $8.9 million Monday – the deadline for contributions larger than $5,000 – as a precaution.

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