Should the government have its own wine brand? Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board member Robert Marcus thinks so, telling lawmakers, "We have the legal ability to do it. We did it. We're proud of it."
During a House Appropriations Committee hearing last week, Marcus was asked how the PLCB's in-house wine program materialized. Shockingly (or not), his version of the process contradicted that of the LCB's Marketing Director Jim Short.
Marcus claimed a number of people asked the agency about its interest in selling a private-label wine, before the agency began an open search. But Short says the PLCB first approached vendors, and failed several times before working out a deal with Majestic Wine and Spirits
So which story is accurate? Well, it's impossible to know since, according to the Tribune-Review, "interviews and board meeting records indicate the in-house brands were developed in relative secrecy."
While Marcus thinks that the PLCB spending tax dollars to promote and market its own brand is a success—over the objections of lawmakers like Senator Pat Vance—it in fact hinders Pennsylvania wineries, who would benefit under privatization. Government wine brands that compete unfairly with other private wineries are really nothing to be proud of. John Micek of the Patriot News says the government TableLeaf brand makes the case for privatization itself.
If you're keeping track, add this to the growing list of why the government needs to get out of the booze business for good.