Sen. Fasano Calls for Action re: Liquor Store Chains Violating State Law

August 30, 2016

Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano (R-North Haven) wrote to Commissioner Jonathan Harris of the Department of Consumer Protection today calling for him to take swift action regarding Total Wine and BevMax violating the state’s minimum bottle pricing laws, “to implement the appropriate punishment including but not limited to a temporary injunction to stop this violation of state law.”

Full letter is below and attached.

August 30, 2016

Commissioner Jonathan A. Harris,

I know you are familiar with Total Wine & More which recently violated the state’s minimum bottle pricing laws. I am writing to urge your office to take swift action to address the purposeful disregard for state law shown by Total Wine & More and BevMax, two liquor store chains that are now selling liquor below Connecticut’s minimum prices.

It is the responsibility of your department to enforce these laws which ensure that all package store retailers in Connecticut have the equal opportunity to compete. I understand that you have launched investigations into the actions of both chain retailers, which knowingly and purposefully violated state law. Their behavior is completely inexcusable. I ask that you act swiftly to implement the appropriate punishment including but not limited to a temporary injunction to stop this violation of state law.

BevMax only began selling liquor at less than minimum price after Total Wine & More lowered their prices below the legal minimums and BevMax is not a part of Total Wine & More lawsuit. This shows that the illegal actions of one retailer have spread and will continue to spread without swift action by your department. You need to make it extremely clear to all big box stores that breaking the law cannot and will not be tolerated in the state of Connecticut.

I found recent comments made by the governor’s office to the press to be inappropriate and I hope they do not influence your action in any way. Governor Malloy appears extremely supportive of the two liquor store chains’ violation of state law which he believes is ‘backwards.’ But the law is the law and no matter what the governor’s opinions may be about a law, it is the obligation of the state and Connecticut leaders to uphold the law. Legislators had the opportunity many times to repeal Connecticut minimum bottle pricing but we chose not to for many reasons. Without these laws in place many small mom-and-pop package stores would be run out of business by large retail chains. You and only you have the obligation to protect these businesses and any hesitation by your department cannot be tolerated.

I recognize the necessity of an investigation, which seems simple and obvious given the facts and verbal admissions by these offenders.

I look forward to your response and, more importantly, your quick legal action against these offenders.

Len Fasano