The Scandal That Wasn't

Tony Magee
Last week, Guys Drinking Beer posted a most intriguing take on a $25,000 donation Lagunitas made to the election campaign of Chicago mayor Rahm Imanuel.
Lagunitas Brewing Company cut a check to Rahm Emanuel’s re-election campaign for $25,000. It certainly isn’t the brewery’s first contribution to a political candidate but is the most sizable contribution and the second time this year it’s dropped 25k on a politician.
It wasn't the only check the brewery mailed out to politicos:
In July, Lagunitas cut a $25,000 check to incumbent governor Pat Quinn (who lost to Republican Bruce Rauner). In September Lagunitas dropped over 10k on Alderman Patrick O’Connor. $9,225 of that was an individual contribution while another $1,275 was an “in kind” contribution of beer and appetizers — most likely for a fundraiser. Alderman O’Connor, who represents the 40th ward on the north side, is Mayor Emanuel’s floor leader.

And then there’s the Christmas Eve contribution of $25,000 to the mayor’s campaign. It brings the total amount contributed by Lagunitas to Chicago politicians, since July, to $60,500.
For the most part, the incident seemed to garner very little attention. Things like this were rare. Lagunitas's Tony Magee has 20,000 followers, yet when he discussed the matter on Twitter, just a few people responded.  (Mostly about how they hated Rahm, it seems.)  Given the scrutiny beer geeks give breweries, I was surprised by this.  Politics is messy and ugly.  There's always an aroma of quid pro quo about political donations--how could it be otherwise?--and that's the kind of thing beer geeks hate.

Having formally written about politics, this not only doesn't surprise me, it makes a ton of sense.  To ignore the realities of politics--which is to say the realities of public policy that affect things like zoning, distribution laws, taxation, etc--is crazy short-sighted.  And brewers have become much more politically engaged and politically savvy.  But still; I'm surprised it wasn't a bigger story.