The Monthly Editorial Blog By Schlafly Beer President Tom Schlafly
Starting a business and running for political office have something in common. Both often involve taking on a significant amount of debt. That said, there’s an important difference. Politicians have ways of repaying their debts that are not available to us entrepreneurs.
Consider Hillary Clinton, who at the start of the summer still owed $330,000 from her unsuccessful campaign for President in 2008. In order to help pay down this debt, her husband Bill Clinton recently held a lottery for the privilege of spending a day with him in New York. Apparently, many of the wealthy donors who had funded Hillary’s campaign had already given the maximum allowed under federal election laws. A lottery was seen as a way of raising money from people of more modest means who had not maximized their donations. At the time the lottery was announced, Hillary’s net worth was close to $34 million, while Bill’s net worth was around $80 million, meaning the total amount owed was less than one-third of one percent of their combined net worth. One would have thought they could have paid the debt themselves without tapping into the resources of more impecunious supporters.
Another approach to raising money is that taken by John Edwards, who received over $6 million from a centenarian billionaire named Bunny Mellon. He supposedly used $725,000 of this sum to conceal the fact that he had sired a child by his paramour Rielle Hunter while his wife was dying of cancer.
As was reported by Kevin Horrigan, a writer for The St. Louis Post-Dispatch who may or may not be an alert reader (AR) of this column, Bunny (fka Rachel Lambert, aka the halitosis heiress) is the daughter of Jerry Lambert, the President of Warner Pharmacal, which manufactured Listerine. Jerry had succeeded his older brother Albert Bond Lambert, who was President of the company from 1896 to 1923.
What Horrigan neglected to mention in his article was that Albert and Arthur Deacon, the Secretary of Warner Pharmacal at the time, had previously teamed up with James Nixon Hull to form Lambert-Deacon-Hull Printing Company. Most important, in 1901 they began construction on a building at 2100 Locust Street to house the business. As all ARs undoubtedly know, this magnificent edifice, designed by Samuel Sherer and completed in 1902, is now the home of The Schlafly Tap Room.
Despite his heroic role in the battle against halitosis, Albert Bond Lambert is better remembered in St. Louis as a pioneer in aviation. In 1925 he left Warner Pharmacal and purchased a 160-acre field, which he converted into an airstrip and renamed Lambert Field. Two years later he helped Charles Lindbergh finance his historic flight across the Atlantic. Ten years earlier he had helped the federal government acquire 624 acres of land near Belleville, which became known as Scott Field, and later as Scott Air Force Base.
In addition to the role Scott AFB currently plays in defending the country, I am also grateful for its contribution to the success of Schlafly Beer. Within a month of the opening of The Schlafly Tap Room in 1991, we began seeing a steady stream of customers from Scott who had tasted good beer while stationed in Europe and were delighted to find comparable brews stateside. Among these many fine servicemen and women, I would like to extend particular gratitude to an AR named Al Hunt, who gave the order to start serving Schlafly at the officers and enlisted clubs at Scott, as well as at the golf course.
Colonel Hunt has since been assigned to Maxwell AFB in Montgomery, AL, where he is an instructor at the Air War College. The students at the College include a select group of high-ranking officers from all branches of the U.S. military and 44 other countries. In addition, once a year approximately 100 civilian leaders from around the country are invited to the College to participate in the week-long National Security Forum. The same colonel who selected Schlafly Beer for Scott helped select me for this Forum.
Over the course of the week I was able to hobnob with big shots, fly in a simulator, and attend briefings on a variety of topics. One expert on bioterrorism pointed out that making weapons for use in biological warfare wasn’t all that complicated. To illustrate his point, he showed a picture of a fermentation tank, which he said could be found in any microbrewery. At that point dozens of heads turned towards me, with many perhaps wondering how I had received the security clearance necessary to participate in the Forum.
Later that evening, some attendees were invited for dinner at the home of Al and his wife, Major Laura Hunt. While children frolicked in the pool, adults enjoyed several types of Schlafly Beer that Al and Laura had thoughtfully stockpiled. I found myself talking to some foreign air force officers about American democracy and our electoral system. When one of them asked if the cost of running for office was an obstacle, I replied that it wasn’t. All you needed to do was find a billionaire in her dotage or sell lottery tickets to people less well off than yourself.