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Legality of OSAP's briefing questioned.

The National Beer Wholesalers Association has questioned the legality of a recent breakfast meeting attended by Senators and their staff, which was sponsored and funded by the Office for Substance Abuse Prevention (OSAP).

The breakfast, held February 4 in the U.S. Capitol, was ostensibly a briefing on three different grants administered by OSAP, the NBWA has claimed. However, because private citizens were brought in at taxpayers' expense to promote the programs, and because the breakfast was planned and hosted by a private contractor, again at taxpayers' expense, the NBWA maintained that OSAP may have violated a law which prohibits the expenditure of appropriated funds on the activities "designed to influence in any manner a member of the U.S. Congress..."

"While this breakfast has been dubbed a briefing by OSAP," NBWA president Ron Sarasin said, "it is appropriations time on Capitol Hill, and this is clearly an attempt to promote their programs with Congress.

"While the law provides for federal agencies to communicate with Congress," Sarasin said, "it must be through proper channels such as an official Congressional liaison, or at the request of a member of Congress or Congressional committee. It does not provide for self-serving free breakfast giveaways to promote sub-agency lobbying."

"If every minor bureaucracy lobbied Congress in this manner," Sarasin wrote in a letter to each attending Senator, "not only would the costs be astronomical, you and your staff would be asked to attend several of these meetings every day of the year.

"NBWA believes that every federal dollar not spent on actual treatment of abuse, enforcement or existing laws, or objective scientific research costs lives," the letter stressed.

"NBWA has grown accustomed to battling OSAP for fairness and balance," noted NBWA chairman Kirby Lawlis. "Now we must attack their possibly illegal use of taxpayer dollars for blatant self-promotion.

"If it is not, in fact, legally wrong," Lawlis concluded, "it certainly is morally wrong."
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Title Annotation:Office for Substance Abuse Prevention
Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Date:Feb 24, 1992
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