A New Hampshire state senator angry over Russia's meddling in November's elections has proposed punishing Vladimir Putin's regime — by pulling Russian vodka off the shelves of state liquor stores.
State Sen. Jeff Woodburn, the Democratic leader, proposed legislation on Monday to create a bipartisan commission to consider punitive measures against Russia, following the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Putin's regime interfered with November's presidential contest.
Woodburn's commission would be allowed to consider a wide variety of responses, though two possibilities were specifically mentioned in the draft version of the bill. One is a proposal to require the state retirement system to divest from any Russian-based assets, the other would require the state Liquor Commission to suspend orders for any Russian-made vodkas for sale at the 79 state-run liquor stores – the only source for hard liquor in the state.
Woodburn's bill quotes from an 1809 letter written by Gen. John Stark, a Granite State native and Revolutionary War hero, according to the New Hampshire Union Leader.
"I am the enemy of all foreign influence, for all foreign influence is the influence of tyranny," Stark wrote, in the same letter in which he coined the state motto, “Live free or die.”
Even if Woodburn's measure wins approval, it is unlikely to leave Granite State liquor stores bereft of vodka. New Hampshire liquor stores currently carry only a few Russian-made vodka brands, including Russian Standard Vodka and Stolichnaya, which is actually distilled in Latvia.
Most popular vodka brands available in American liquor stores, such as Smirnoff, Svedka, Grey Goose and Absolut, are made by companies in the United Kindgom, France and Sweden.
New Hampshire liquor stores also carry 159 different varieties of American-made vodka.