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Follow the Money: DIAGEO

Posted at 2:00 pm on March 12, 2015 by 2nd Vote

Green is coming. Green shirts, green ties, green hats, green beer and even green rivers.  Saint Patrick may be the Patron Saint of Ireland, but these days, the holiday honoring him is less religion and more libation.

Over 35 million Americans claim Irish ancestry according to the United States Census Bureau, which makes for about 11.6% of the population. As the third largest ancestry group in the country, Irish-Americans undoubtedly have made a mark of cultural influence.

That heritage will be on full display next week on St. Patrick’s Day.  There might be a lot of “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” shirts roaming around next week, however, for lips without the true ancestral luck of the Emerald Isle, most will find solace in the kiss of an Irish-themed beverage.

Multinational producer and distributor Diageo carries some of the most well known brands associated with St. Patrick’s Day. In fact, the beverage giant was formed from the merger of Guinness Plc and Grand Metropolitan, the owner of Smirnoff and formerly Intercontinental Hotels and Burger King. In addition to Guinness, Irish beers Smithwick’s and Harp Lager appear in Diageo’s portfolio as well as Bushmills Irish Whiskey and Bailey’s Irish Cream liqueur.

However, next week’s impending sales spike isn’t the only reason the beverage giant’s name has been in the news recently. On March 5, 2015, Diageo, North America, Inc. signed an amicus brief with hundreds of other corporations in support of same-sex marriage asking the Supreme Court to overturn bans in 13 states. This is not surprising considering Diageo took a similar stance in 2013 by signing a brief in support of the Court overturning DOMA in the Windsor case.

Diageo’s involvement with liberal groups on the social issues is well documented. The Human Rights Campaign lists Diageo as a Platinum Level Corporate Sponsor. Ketel One, a brand owned by Diageo, is also listed as a Premier Sponsor of GLAAD, a designation earned by over $200,000 in annual giving. Furthermore, the Diageo North America Foundation has contributed to the March of Dimes, Susan G. Komen and the United Way, all funders of Planned Parenthood.

Conservatives who care to “responsibly” enjoy an evening of celebration may have a hard time finding good alternatives from the larger beverage producers, Irish or not. Anheuser-Busch, which holds 47.6% of sales to U.S. retailers, has funded groups advocating for abortion, same-sex marriage and gun control. However, keeping our spending in line with our political values brings us to an interesting position.

Craft breweries and microbreweries are one of the fastest growing segments of the industry in America. By definition, craft breweries produce between 15,000 and 6,000,000 barrels per year and microbreweries produce less than 15,000 barrels per year.

2nd Vote has found that information on the political orientation of small businesses like these is often unavailable because of the limited budgets of small businesses in general. In other words, smaller, more locally based companies are less likely to be financially involved with liberal organizations because the extra funds don’t exist. In this regard, the “buy local” movement seems to make a lot of sense.

Hopefully, RedState readers will enjoy the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day safely and responsibly and by holding their dollars accountable. Between the pouring of Jameson shots, we can also reflect on the cultural and political contributions of Irish-Americans, for better or worse, especially when considering the fact that several Presidents have claimed Irish heritage.  After all, that includes Ronald Reagan.

Chris Walker is the Executive Director of 2nd Vote, a conservative shopper app. To find out more, download the free app or visit 2ndVote.com.


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