Alcohol tax study scandal grows (lies, lobbying, more)

By Taxpayers Association of Oregon

Last month the news broke that the State agency, Oregon Health Authority, spent $60,000 of tax dollars on a study on alcohol taxes and hid the study results from the public because the results showed that alcohol taxes do not significantly reduce drinking.   This came at the same time, their boss, Governor Brown was pushing a beer, wine, cider tax.

Now we learn, the agency did more than just hide.

Oregon Health Authority said they did not share the study with anybody.

It was a lie.

They shared the study with the pro-beer tax lobby.

The Oregonian found, “Mike Marshall, head of addiction treatment provider group Oregon Recovers that has advocated for higher alcohol taxes, was briefed on the study findings, emails show. Agency staff then edited a memo about the study based on his feedback.”

The Oregon Health Authority tried to change the message of the study results (which they didn’t like)

The Oregonian states, “[OHA lead analyst] suggested changes included softening a section of the memo that said alcohol taxation is “the least targeted strategy to minimize excessive consumption among heaviest users” by adding new language about why taxes are still a policy worth pursuing.”

The Oregon Health Authority then ignored the results and lobbied for taxes anyways

The Oregonian states, “Months later, in April 2022, health authority staffers submitted a proposal to the lawyers who draft bills for the Legislature that would have drastically raised Oregon’s taxes on beer, wine and cider and earmarked 20% of the revenue for alcohol and drug prevention.”

The goal of having taxpayers pay for a public study is not to hide the results from lawmakers and taxpayers and then twist the results to fit your desired political lobby strategies.

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