Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and fellow Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul announced a bill on Wednesday to provide special corporate tax advantages for liquor distillers.
A look at McConnell’s campaign finance history may offer a big clue as to why: hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions from the alcoholic beverages sector.
The Advancing Growth in the Economy through Distilled Spirits Act would renew an expiring provision from President Donald Trump’s 2017 tax cut bill that allows for the deduction of interest expenses related to bourbon inventory when the expenses are paid, rather then when the bourbon is bottled and sold. In a joint press release, Paul said the bill would “preserve Kentucky’s signature Bourbon industry by boosting job creation and maintaining a level playing field between Bourbon and whiskey producers at home and their competitors abroad.”
But back in 2010, an examination by the non-partisan Center for Public Integrity calculated the largest individual donors to McConnell over his decades-long tenure in Congress. Of the top five largest career donors, three had ties to the Kentucky-based Brown-Forman Corporation. Brown-Forman’s products include Jack Daniel’s whiskey and Old Forester bourbon.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, in 2014 — the last time McConnell was up for re-election — he also received more in donations from the beer, wine, and liquor sector than any other senator. The total for that campaign alone: $144,950.
So far this year, McConnell has received $5,000 from Brown-Forman’s corporate PAC and $10,000 from the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America.
As majority leader, McConnell has spent most of the 116th Congress ensuring no lawmaking happens. He has boasted of being the “grim reaper” who blocks legislation from even coming to the floor and has so stanched the flow of bills that even his Republican colleagues have publicly complained. He has introduced little legislation, aside from housekeeping resolutions required to organize the Senate. So when the Kentucky Republican announces he will push for a bill, it is unusual.
While Paul is in just his second term in the Senate, he too has received tens of thousands in contributions from the alcohol industry.