by Sara Swann
Fourth of July weekend is all about the red, white and blue. But some of the industries behind the festivities for America’s birthday show more loyalty toward red than blue.
Hamburgers and hotdogs are the go-to food choices for many Americans on the Fourth of July. It’s a big day for the livestock industry, which last year made more than $10 million in campaign contributions. The 2016 total was just shy of beating its all-time high of $10.2 million from 2012.
Last cycle, the livestock industryoverwhelmingly gave to Republicans with 81 percent of its contributions to political parties and candidates going to the right. The top contributor in the industry was the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, which gave 92.3 percent of its 2016 contributions to Republicans. This is in line with the industry’s past partisan splits; since at least 1990 the livestock industry has always given more to Republicans than Democrats. Three-quarters of its overall contributions have gone to red parties and candidates. Donald Trumpwas the politician who received the most from the livestock industry during the 2016 election (roughly $472,000). Hillary Clinton received almost half of that amount with about $233,000.
As for lobbying in 2016, the livestock industry spent more than $3.3 million — almost as much as its highest lobbying total of nearly $3.5 million in 2006. The biggest lobbying client within the industry was the National Pork Producers Council. Among issues related to the food industry, the council focused its lobbying efforts on legislation that would require disclosure of bioengineered plants and animals used in food products, also known as genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
Hot dogs and burgers wouldn’t make it to the Independence Day festivities without the food processing & sales industry, which has also been loyal to the Republican party. In 2016, this industry made almost $21 million in contributions, its second highest year after 2012. Two-thirds of its contributions to parties and candidates of went to Republicans. Similar to the livestock industry, groups within the food processing & sales industry have consistently given more money to Republicans than Democrats since the 1990 election cycle.
In 2016, Reyes Holdings, one of the largest beer distribution companies in the country, gave the most among organizations in this industry with a total of more than $2.1 million. Nearly all of the group’s political contributions went to Republicans last year (only 1.6 percent went to Democrats). In addition to beer, Reyes Holdings also handles distribution for Coca-Cola brands and McDonald’s restaurants.
Last year the food processing & sales industry reported its lowest lobbying totalsince 2007 with just over $26.7 million. The biggest lobbying client for the industry, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, mainly focused on issuesregarding food safety and the accurate labeling of products.
Celebrating America’s birthday wouldn’t be complete without alcohol, and lots of it. Every year, millions of Americans crack open a cold one to celebrate, making the Fourth of July the top holiday for beer drinking. According to a WalletHub study, more than $1 billion was spent on beer for the holiday in 2016. On top of that, about $568 million was estimated to be spent on wine last year.
The beer, wine & liquor industry saw a record-high contribution total of more than $23.4 million in 2016. This industry distributed its money more evenly; of its contributions to parties and candidates, 54 percent went to Republicans and 46 percent to Democrats.
The top contributors from the beer, wine & liquor industry were the National Beer Wholesalers Association, a membership group for beer distributors, and Anheuser-Busch InBev, which owns a host of beer brands including Budweiser and Stella Artois. In 2016, the two companies’ PACs and employees gave about $3.5 million and $3.2 million, respectively. A majority of both amounts went to Republicans over Democrats.
Last year was also huge for beer, wine & liquor lobbying as the industry reported its highest spending ever with a total of almost $26.9 million. The top lobbying groups for the industry were the Distilled Spirits Council and Anheuser-Busch InBev with about $6 million and $5.7 million, respectively. Some of the issues the groups lobbied on were efforts to prevent underage drinking and various taxes on alcohol production and distribution.
Of course, it wouldn’t be the Fourth of July without fireworks. While fireworks manufacturers are not a big enough player to have their own page on our site, a couple names have been lighting up the political realm. The Consumer Fireworks Safety Association, formerly known as the Washington Independence Day Association, has a modestly sized PAC that has donated $79,750 to candidates since 1994, split almost evenly between Democrats and Republicans. Another trade group, the National Fireworks Association, has spent $120,000 to lobby on “general education of firework operational safety” so far in 2017, according to the latest lobbying disclosure from May 16.