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Booze Industry Funds Flow to Politicians, Including Baptists

Four Baptists were among the top 20 recipients of alcohol industry contributions during the 2002 congressional campaign. Three candidates affiliated with the religious right were also on the list.

The leading recipient was Rep. Richard Gephardt, D-Mo., who received $129,561 from the beer, wine and liquor industry. Other Baptists included Sen. Jean Carnahan, D-Mo., Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” /> 
Sen. James Talent, R-Mo., was second on the list with total contributions of $96,950, while Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, was sixth. 
Both Talent, a Presbyterian, and Cornyn, a <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />Church of Christ member, were endorsed by a religious political action committee, Government Is Not God.  
GING-PAC identified itself as “a real religious right Political Action Committee,” which supported candidates who were pro-life, pro-family, pro-home schooling and pro-school prayer, as well as against gun control and “the unbiblical welfare state.”  
Cornyn and Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., were supported by Intercessors for America, which called for a pre-election prayer and fasting. Allard, who identifies himself only as a Protestant, was endorsed by Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum.  
Southern Baptists have historically opposed the alcohol industry, refusing to invest in alcohol-related corporations and fighting liquor-by-the-drink referenda. Other conservative evangelical groups have taken similar stands. But with the emergence of the religious right, Southern Baptist leaders and other fundamentalists have de-emphasized alcohol as a moral issue.   
The list of the top 20 alcohol industry recipients was compiled by opensecrets.org, the Web site of the Center for Responsive Politics. 
According to the CRP, the beer, wine and liquor political action committees contributed over $2.4 million to federal candidates in the 2002 election cycle, as of Oct. 21. Republicans had received 69 percent of the contributions, compared to 31 percent for Democrats.  
David Rehr, president of the National Beer Wholesalers Association, told the Washington Post, “We’re more energized than ever before,” according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest. 
CSPI reported, “Since 1990, the alcohol industry has contributed $53.4 million to federal candidates, including more than $13 million during the 2000 presidential campaign and over $7.5 million during the 2002 congressional campaigns.”