The New York Times ran a front-page story on Congressman Mike Thompson recently. Thompson’s district includes Napa and he is also a grape grower; the article made this seem like a conflict of interest. I’d dissect the story and its shortcomings but Mike Steinberger has already done that on his blog, thus saving me the trouble.
The article did remind me of the Congressional Wine Caucus, an informal, bipartisan group of over 200 members of Congress–”the anti-Tea Party” as @sippingsister put it–that Thompson heads. Although most caucuses rarely meet, I placed a call to Thompson’s office (as well as the Wine Institute) requesting the names of the members of the Caucus. My thinking was that these members would presumably be stalwarts in supporting wine consumers and opposing the nefarious HR 1161 if that well-financed bill should ever see the light of day in the chamber. Sadly both responded to say that the list of members is not available to the public. That’s too bad since wine is becoming more popular in congressional districts every year across America as we are now the thirstiest wine country in the world. Also, wine in America is frustratingly intertwined with political machinations. Since it’s not hard to find out who is on, say, the Congressional Bike Caucus or the Congressional Black Caucus, you’d think wine would be no different.
If the membership list ever does surface, I hope there’s no overlap between Caucus members and the 94 cosponsors of HR 1161. That would have more than a whiff of inconsistency.