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Rantz: Dem lawmaker pushing ‘garbage beer’ boycott for not supporting fringe bill

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Democratic Washington State Representative Joe Fitzgibbon (WA-34) is not happy with an Oregon brewery after they came out against a fringe environmentalist bill. Now, he’s literally asking bar owners to stop selling the beer in what could be a potential abuse of power.

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The drama comes from Oregon HB 2020, a messy and complicated 180-page cap-and-trade bill with over 100 amendments. It aimed to lower the state’s carbon emissions over time, but it would have devastated the state economy. Despite a childish Republican walkout in the Senate, the Democrats didn’t have the votes to pass it and it’s dead.

Deschutes Brewery, out of Bend, Ore., was an unwilling participant in the push to pass the bill. They learned that Oregon Business for Climate (OBC) pushed for the bill, claiming that the brewery backed it. They did not; they were neutral.

“We support environmental and sustainability initiatives,” the brewery said in a tweet, but they were not happy to be used by the OBC to push the bill. Consequently, they left the OBC and cancelled any support for the bill.

Fitzgibbon, a passionate environmentalist from Burien, wasn’t happy. As a result, he took to his Twitter feed, to call them out.

He tweeted directly at the brewery that “I will never drink your garbage beer again and will tell everyone I know the same.” This is a bit weird. If the beer is garbage, why’d you drink it in the first place?

Fitzgibbon then tweeted: “I’m going to be asking every bar I go to to stop serving @DeschutesBeer because they are gutless and want us to consign us to a world where hops can’t even grow.”

This is where it gets problematic. Will he be doing this as a private citizen or as a state lawmaker? The latter is, obviously, a severe abuse of power, especially since he can leverage his power in Olympia to hurt these bars that don’t bend to his will. Would he ever do that? I doubt it. But it’s about perception and he’s using a Twitter feed, which very clearly identifies him as a state lawmaker, to call for a boycott because a brewery in a state he doesn’t live in, wouldn’t support a bill they didn’t want anything to do with.

This isn’t the lawmaker’s first Twitter controversy. He previously called Arizona a “racist wasteland” on Twitter. After the tweet gained traction, he appeared on my radio show to apologize.

“I legitimately felt like I said something that was wrong and was hurtful and I’d rather be on record with folks knowing that’s not how I really feel,” he said at the time.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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