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Beer wholesaler throws weight around

October 17, 2015

In Greg Andrews’ Oct. 10 “Behind the News,” he quotes a single line from a trial court decision to imply that Indiana law restricting what alcoholic beverage wholesalers can distribute is somehow bad public policy. His article also quotes Phil Terry, the president and CEO of both Monarch Beverage and E.F. Transit—which are owned by the same group of people—in order to question the logic in prohibiting beer and liquor from being on the same delivery truck.

Placing beer and liquor on the same truck is simply not the issue. The alcoholic beverage industry in Indiana and in other states is based on a concept of limited permits. The reasons for the public policy that underlies this concept have been stated in many court decisions throughout the country. These reasons include encouraging brand competition through a diversity of wholesalers, and preventing the potential for bullying of regulators by wholesalers that have become too large to regulate effectively. A key aspect of Indiana law related to this policy is the prohibition against any one wholesaler such as Monarch from having influence or control over the wholesaling of all three types of alcoholic beverages (beer, wine and liquor).

As the article accurately notes, Monarch has attempted for many years to change the law to allow it to expand its current distribution of beer and wine to include liquor. Monarch tried and failed to achieve this in the Legislature, and it has tried unsuccessfully numerous times at the regulatory level by filing applications in the name of an affiliated entity.

To date, Monarch has filed no fewer than seven lawsuits against Indiana requesting attorneys’ fees from the state. When we’re talking about fees, we’re talking about taxpayer dollars. Monarch is asking that it be allowed to grow as it sees fit, regardless of the fact that, as the IBJ pointed out in 2014, Phil Terry has in the past championed the separation of beer and liquor wholesaling.

The state has already spent too much time, energy and money complying with voluminous discovery requests and defending itself against such lawsuits. This newest assault in the judicial branch, which Andrews outlined in his article, is a perfect example of why Indiana law is on target: It’s keeping an alcoholic beverage wholesaler that is already too large from bullying Indiana regulators to get out of its way.•

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Marc Carmichael
Indiana Beverage Alliance president

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