At the Borough President Candidate forum (4/10/2013) in Maple Grove Cemetery Center sponsored by the Queens Civic Congress, I asked a question of Senator Peralta regarding news that broke recently on his involvement in the "At Rest" law for wine and liquor distribution in NY State, and his reception of campaign contributions over the last 3 years from Empire Merchants LLC, which has been noted to be one of the two biggest wholesalers in the state.
Now, I really disliked having to interrupt the senator when he's giving his response, but he was engaging in a deliberate distortion of the truth, and I felt overwhelmingly compelled - I apologize for that. But the NY State Board of Elections definitively shows that Senator Peralta received $2500 over the last 3 years from Empire Merchants, LLC.
I had this information on hand. To say that he received $2500 in contributions OVER the 11 years suggests that he was given some amount of it 11 years ago, which is not the case.
Empire Merchants is cited as owning facilities in NYC, which would give it a distinctly unfair competitive advantage against smaller stores that use cheaper facilities in NJ in order to bring city residents a wider variety of alcohol at prices NYers can afford. Now of course, almost any law will inevitably help some parties more than others. What I find particularly troubling here is that this legislation confers no productivity benefit: it simply requires that goods have to sit idle before sale. The industry will likely be more consolidated into fewer, larger hands, and small businesses that shed jobs will neutralize union gains. Organic Wine Journal has already spoken out about how this type of legislation will be harmful.
Senator Peralta has tried to push this legislation in the past, too.
That Senator Peralta does not see this as a conflict of interest to even vote on, let alone co-author the legislation, is troubling. Pointing the finger at other politicians doing the same thing is besides the point: neither Klein nor Cuomo are running for BP - only Peralta. Receiving less money does not exonerate him from the responsibility to abstain from taking part in this. Suggesting that 33 other states having this same onerous law means it would be a good idea for NY to do so too makes no sense as the economy struggles to get its footing. These should be troubling facts for anyone concerned with corruption of political office by special interests, and the future of Queens.