Yesterday Pat Lynch spoke with Ben Cunningham of the Anniston Star to state his position regarding the recently announced FTH boycott of Birmingham Budweiser.

I would like to rebut several statements he made in that interview.

Lynch states he has taken no steps to pre-empt anything that might be introduced in the Legislature’s upcoming session.

There are no steps he needs to have taken at this point. But he has made it clear he will try again to kill a Jefferson County local bill if we try to pass one. That doesn’t require “pre-emption,” it only requires making a phone call to kill it in committee, just as he did last year.

“It would be good before somebody boycotts us for somebody to call and ask our position.”

There was no need for an assumption of his position. We have been dealing with his opposition to our efforts for over two years. Our decision to boycott wasn’t made in a vacuum. He has a history of working against us and he has made it clear his position hasn’t changed.

  • In June 2007, Lynch sat down at a table with the former President of FTH and our lobbyist and struck a deal in which he pledged to help us pass a Jefferson County local bill in return for our including a provision that would limit refrigeration of high ABV beers. If that concession was agreed to by FTH, he would support the Jefferson County bill and attend a dinner with the key members of the Jefferson County delegation to personally express his support.

    Two weeks later he told us that the other Bud guys wouldn’t support local bills and he just couldn’t go against what the other Bud wholesalers decided.

  • In that Fall he declined to attend the local delegation dinner at Highlands and reiterated his opposition to the Jefferson County local bill.
  • This Tuesday (January 22, 2008) he announced publicly in the AWBA meeting that he would oppose all local bills in the legislative session.

We didn’t feel it was necessary to notify him we were about to launch a boycott in the same way he didn’t feel it was necessary to notify us when he was about to kill our Jefferson County bill last year.

Local bills to raise the 6-percent alcohol-by-volume cap on beer sold in Alabama are a bad idea because they would create a patchwork of regulations for the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board to enforce.

Lynch made no mention of this “patchwork of regulations” argument last June when we struck a deal; it is ridiculous on its face. The ABC already deals with a patchwork of regulations regarding alcohol, as every county has the ability to make local laws governing the sale of alcohol within its borders. This means there are wet and dry counties, wet cities in dry counties, draft and no-draft counties, counties with different container limits, Sunday sales in some counties but not others… the list goes on.

The ABC does not oppose a “patchwork of regulations” and it is not Lynch’s place to kill a local bill, on their unrequested behalf, based on his personal opinion.

Lynch continues to support a statewide bill raising the ABV limit.

He’s been claiming this for 2 years now, but all of his actions betray the emptiness of this assertion. If he really supported raising the ABV limit, he would support our local bill because there is no valid reason to oppose local bills on this issue. He only opposes local bills because they are easier to pass and he doesn’t want the limit raised. Lynch has never lifted a finger to help us get our statewide bill passed and all evidence would lead a reasonable person to believe he has been working behind closed doors against passage of our statewide bill.

Lynch took action to block the Jefferson County bill because it would have raised the cap and allowed for containers larger than 16 ounces.

FTH has never introduced any bill that would affect container size and Lynch knows it. We agreed to delay that issue in favour of pushing the ABV bill first.

The text of our local bill from last year – HB728 – proves it. The text of this bill can be read on the Alabama legislature’s website.