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In Senate 18 race, Janet Cruz says Dana Young profits from beer legislation

Young has developed a reputation as a champion of the craft brewing industry, sponsoring legislation to make it easier for small breweries to retail their products.
State Sen. Dana Young, R-Tampa, faces a challenge from Democrat Janet Cruz.  [Times files]
State Sen. Dana Young, R-Tampa, faces a challenge from Democrat Janet Cruz. [Times files]
Published Sep. 21, 2018
Updated Sep. 21, 2018

The Janet Cruz campaign is opening a new line of attack against state District 18 Republican Sen. Dana Young, suggesting Young has sponsored legislation that benefits her husband's investments in the craft beer industry.

Young has developed a reputation as a champion of the craft brewing industry, sponsoring legislation to make it easier for small breweries to retail their products.

Now Democrats charge that while Young has been pursuing that legislation, the Mangrove Partners equity firm run by her husband, Matt Young, has acquired bottling and canning companies that serve the industry.

Meanwhile, the Democrats note, Young's net worth has more than quadrupled during her time in the Legislature, largely because of increases in the value of joint investment accounts with her husband.

Young claimed a net worth of $4.7 million as of May 31. That's up from $2 million in May 2013 and $667,408 when she first ran for the state House in 2010.

[YouTube]
[YouTube]
In 2016, Mangrove acquired Washington-based Meheen Manufacturing, which makes bottling equipment for craft brewers. Meheen shortly thereafter merged with Boulder-based Wild Goose Canning.

Young sponsored bills in the 2016 and 2017 legislative sessions to facilitate craft brew sales by providing exceptions to Florida's "three-tiered" alcohol sales laws, which forbid brewers from distributing or selling directly to consumers.

Young "has used her office to advance her net worth by filing legislation that squarely benefits her investments," said Cruz campaign manager Tim Wagner. "It's simply wrong."

He also noted that Mangrove doesn't list the companies on its web site, as it does other companies it manages.

Young has acknowledged championing the craft brew industry at least since 2014 — not to benefit her husband's investments, she says, but because it produces jobs and small businesses that help reinvigorate depressed manufacturing areas.

Young campaign spokeswoman Sarah Bascom noted that the bottling and canning equipment companies don't relate directly to the subject of the bills Young introduced, which was tasting-room sales and delivery of products by small brewers to local bars or homes for retail sales.

"The bills have nothing to do with the company that Senator Young's husband is involved in. Just another intentionally misleading and false claim from Janet Cruz," Bascom said.

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