Saturday, May 31, 2014

The booze battle in Faulkner County

Posted By on Sat, May 31, 2014 at 7:26 AM

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This mailer is going out in Faulkner County. It's meant to discourage voters from signing petitions for an election in November to vote Faulkner County wet. Currently, alcohol is only available in "private clubs."

A little research indicates the opposition campaign committee includes as an officer Camie Boggess, a lobbyist in the lobbying shop of Bruce Hawkins of Morrilton. His outfit lobbies for the Conway County Legal Beverage Association. If you didn't know, "private clubs" have to buy their supplies from retailers such as members of that association. And, if you didn't know, the busy booze and beer outlets of Conway County are just a few short miles up I-40 from parched Faulkner County.

This developing scrap is just a local example of what will be a statewide donnybrook over the new campaign to take the whole state wet to allow beer sales at convenience and grocery stores. The single biggest opposition (after the church crowd) will come from the county line liquor stores that do enormous business sitting on the edge of dry jurisdictions like Faulkner ad Saline counties. Millions in sales are at issue.

Which reminds me of another Gilbert Baker story: He'd regularly grandstand as senator from Conway about his opposition to private club permits in Faulkner County. But the suspicion always was that he would give the high sign to regulators that he wasn't THAT serious in opposition to certain applications. It's too bad premature publicity about the consulting company he set up to pile more government consulting money on top of his $132,000 as UCA lobbyist died aborning in the Michael Morton/Mike Maggio scandal. Its client list and activities might eventually have proved interesting.

Coincidentally, Sen. Jason Rapert of Conway, who's been caterwauling that nobody asked HIM before starting the wet campaign in Faulkner County, reported $4,000 in contributions recently from Bruce Hawkins' firm and its PAC.

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