DeLay And Bacardi: More Than Drinking Buddies

Miami based Bacardi U.S.A. has contributed $3,000 to Tom DeLay’s legal defense fund. The liquormaker has also contributed more than $40,000 to two political action committees set up by DeLay. Why? Well, frankly, it’s been a small price to pay for the favors DeLay has done for the company recently. From Roll Call, 10/1/03:

With help from House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX), Bacardi-Martini Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of the Bermuda-based rum maker, is on the verge of scoring a big victory in the long-running battle over who owns the rights to the legendary “Havana Club” rum label, a victory that could prove very lucrative in a post-Fidel Castro world.

DeLay is lobbying to include language in the 2004 Defense authorization conference report to amend U.S. trademark law to make it comply with a ruling by the World Trade Organization last year that threatened Bacardi’s claim to the Havana Club brand.

Opponents of DeLay’s proposal point out that his measure was never vetted by any committee in either the House or the Senate, and benefits Bacardi alone, and they claim it could potentially harm U.S. companies that have intellectual or property claims in Cuba.


In addition to lobbying for the insertion of the language in the conference report, DeLay sent a letter to Commerce Secretary Donald L. Evans in November 2001, seeking to influence the outcome of then-pending administrative proceedings over the rights to the Havana Club trademark. According to the Palm Beach Daily Business Review, the legislation was widely referred to as ‘the Bacardi bill.’ Texas Congressman Chris Bell filed an ethics complaint with the House that accused DeLay of backing a pro-Bacardi bill in exchange for a $20,000 contribution in July 2002.