***LATE AFTERNOON UPDATE***
Both sides are wrapping up their closing arguments this afternoon. It does not appear the Commission will reach a decision today, which means they’ll be back in tomorrow morning to issue a ruling.
Depending on the decision the next move for Anheuser-Busch could be an all-out lobbying offensive during the upcoming legislative session to change state law or the case could go to court – again. Or quite possibly both.
ILCC Chairman Steve Schnorf all but conceded today that whatever decision the Commission makes, they won’t have the final say in this matter.
***END LATE AFTERNOON UPDATE***
This is interesting…
Word from inside the Illinois Liquor Control Commission hearing is that former ILCC General Counsel William O’Donaghue, during cross-examination, said there is an exemption for brewers built into the three-tier system that allows them to own a distributor and, essentially, self-distribute their beer.
Apparently he’s arguing that there is really a two-tier system for beer, but a three-tier system for wine and liquor.
So, someone who was general counsel for a Commission in charge of enforcing a three-tier system now says there is actually a two-tier system?
Things seem to be moving at a rather slow pace so I wouldn’t be surprised if things carry over to tomorrow, although that has not been determined by the Commission.
***END MIDDAY UPDATE***
A reliable source at today’s hearing tells us the Commission is breaking for lunch after much of the morning was spent hearing testimony from Anhueser-Busch “witnesses.”
Among them was former Illinois Liquor Control Commission General Counsel turned AB lobbyist William O’Donaghue. He was responsible for initially green-lighting the acquisition of the 30-percent stake in City Beverage.
Also of note, an attorney for AB told commissioners they would not attempt to increase their minority interest in City Beverage if the Commission allows them to retain that 30-percent stake. But, AB would waive that if they end up appealing whatever decision is made.
It is not clear if anyone on the Commission, including the legal division, requested, “No take backs, do overs, quitsies, or anti-quitsies. Triple stamped it, no erasies, touch blue make it true.” Bonus points if you know what movie that’s from.
Our source expects commissioners to return for more testimony after lunch.
The Commission did block off time tomorrow for this case if they aren’t able to get all the testimony in, and reach a decision, today.
***END LUNCHTIME UPDATE***
We thought this photo of Illinois Liquor Control Commission Executive Director Gloria L. Materre, speaking to members of the Associated Beer Distributors of Illinois at their annual convention last week, would be appropriate for today.
The Illinois Liquor Control Commission is due to meet at 9am to rule in the City Beverage Case.
The Commission’s legal division, this summer, cited Anheuser-Busch and its wholly owned subsidiary WEDCO for violating the Illinois Liquor Control Act by holding a minority interest in an Illinois distributor, something AB has been doing since 2005.
The citation calls for AB to divest its 30-percent stake in City Beverage, which consists of four wholesalers in Illinois.
If you’d like to get caught up on our coverage you can do so HERE.
We have eyes and ears at today’s hearing and will bring you the decision as soon as we have it.