Mikhael Shor, an assistant professor of economics at Vanderbilt’s Owen School of Management, has filed a complaint with the Tennessee Ethics Commission over the “wine in grocery stores” bill.
The bill, which failed this past legislative session, would have allowed the sale of wine at grocery stores. Opponents of the measure cited a number of what they perceived as flaws in the legislation at the time — an example was that not all grocery stores would be allowed to sell wine — and pointed out that law enforcement officials opposed the legislation.
One issue that came up during the debates was the role of Nashville public relations firm Seigenthaler Public Relations. The firm, contracted by the Wine and Spirit Wholesalers Association of Tennessee, had built a Web site that, among other things, urged citizens to contact elected officials in opposition of the bill.
State Sen. Doug Jackson (D-Dickson), a proponent of the bill, took issue with the site and asked the state’s ethics commission for an advisory opinion on whether the it constituted “lobbying.” If it did, Seigenthaler would have been in violation of rules requiring lobbyists to register.
In May of this year, the ethics commission determined that they would not issue an opinion on the matter since it was not a complaint.
Tuesday, Jackson’s office notified the media that a formal complaint had been filed by Shor against Seigenthaler, the Wine and Spirit Wholesalers of Tennessee, and the Tennessee Malt Beverage Association.
Amy Sieigenthaler, when contacted by NashvillePost.com stated, “We take this for what it is — a move to continue a legislative battle that has already been heard and vetted by the state Legislature. This was brought before the Ethics Commission before and they decided not to hear it. This is more of the same.”