The grocery industry pulled the plug earlier this month on a planned November ballot measure that would have privatized some functions of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. Among other changes, grocery chains such as Fred Meyer and Safeway want to sell liquor in their stores, which today is only possible in a small number of pilot operations.

The combination of unfavorable ballot title language and a lack of time to gather signatures by the July 3 deadline submarined privatization this year.

But the cost of the aborted effort keeps mounting. On June 24, Safeway disclosed a $324,000 contribution to Oregonians for Competition 2, one of the two political action committees pursuing privatization. That brings the total of the amount pumped in to the two campaigns to $2.57 million—a lot of money to spend for an idea that won't be on the ballot.

Pat McCormick
, a spokesman for Oregonians for Competition, says the new money will go to paying for expenses already incurred, not new spending. McCormick says the measure's backing are hoping for a legislative solution in 2015, otherwise they will look to the 2016 ballot.

"They have not abandoned their commitment to change the system," McCormick says.