INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
Authorities are investigating whether one of Indiana’s largest beer
distributors improperly funneled more than $1.5 million in campaign
contributions to some of the state’s most powerful elected officials.
Inspector General David Thomas has been appointed to review allegations that
Monarch Beverage skirted an annual $22,000 corporate campaign finance limit
by making donations through a small limited liability company over the past
15 years, the Indianapolis Star reported. The allegations were made by the
Indiana Beverage Alliance, a group representing Monarch’s competitors.
In a Dec. 14 letter
to Indiana Beverage Alliance President Marc Carmichael, who filed the
complaint, Thomas wrote that he had “requested and received confirmation
from the Indiana State Police that they would conduct an investigation.”
finance laws put strict contribution limits on corporations, but not on
limited liability companies, which didn’t exist when the campaign finance
laws were written.
the money through Vision Concepts, an LLC which shares a CEO and address
with Monarch. In the past, Monarch has denied doing anything wrong, and
Vision Concepts CEO Phil Terry did not respond to a request for comment by
The Associated Press on Tuesday.
Since 2007, Monarch
has tried to persuade lawmakers to throw out a Prohibition-era restriction
that prevents beer wholesalers from also distributing hard liquor. Indiana
is the only state without state-run liquor stores to have such a ban.
House Speaker Brian
Bosma and the House Republican Campaign Committee that he leads have
received more than $200,000 from Vision Concepts over the past 15 years. The
Indiana Republican Party has received more than $100,000, former Gov. Mitch
Daniels received more than $117,000 and Gov. Mike Pence has received more
Democrats also have
received substantial contributions. The Indiana House Democratic Caucus
received more than $40,000, former Gov. Joe Kernan $60,000 and John Gregg,
the former House speaker running for governor, has received more than
The practice has
raised questions about whether such corporations are breaking a separate law
that prohibits companies from hiding the source of campaign cash by giving
in the name of another company. The Indiana Election Commission has never
investigated the issue, much less resolved it, and state lawmakers have been
reluctant to take up legislation that would further restrict corporation
campaign finance practices.