A torrent of money from Big Soda is causing the coffers of the campaign to qualify Initiative 1634 to the November 2018 ballot to fizz over, newly filed reports submitted to Washington State’s Public Disclosure Commission show.
I‑1634 is a measure backed by Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, and Red Bull to prohibit any local jurisdictions (aside from Seattle, that is) from levying taxes on the sale of the unhealthy, sugary beverages that their bottlers manufacture, and which they market for consumption around the globe.
The quartet got the I‑1634 effort rolling last month with $1.9 million in seed money. In May, they poured another $1 million into the campaign’s war chest. It has now raised a total of $2.9 million, with most coming from Coke and Pepsi.
The Washington Food Industry Association, which represents independent and family owned grocers, has also contributed $20,000. Take a look:
Contributions to Initiative 1634 (so far)
|05⁄25||WA FOOD INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION||OLYMPIA||WA||$20,000.00|
|05⁄23||DR PEPPER SNAPPLE GROUP, INC.||PLANO||TX||$159,316.55|
|05⁄23||THE COCA-COLA COMPANY||ATLANTA||GA||$509,225.49|
|05⁄23||RED BULL NORTH AMERICA||SANTA MONICA||CA||$12,512.68|
|04⁄16||RED BULL NORTH AMERICA||SANTA MONICA||CA||$21,735.65|
|04⁄16||THE COCA-COLA COMPANY||ATLANTA||GA||$884,570.10|
|04⁄16||DR PEPPER SNAPPLE GROUP, INC.||PLANO||TX||$276,747.05|
|03⁄08||RED BULL NORTH AMERICA||SANTA MONICA||CA||$293.73|
$2,311,088.48 of the $2,960,000 has already been spent.
A veritable army of consultants, lobbyists, lawyers, and public relations specialists are doing work from the campaign, from Perkins Coie (legal) to Bluefront Strategies (marketing, campaign planning) to the Dewey Square Group and its subcontractors (signature gathering and assorted other services).
The campaign is being marketed as “Yes for Affordable Groceries”, but a more honest name would be “Yes to Cheap High Fructose Corn Syrup in a Bottle!”
NPI anticipates that Big Soda will sink at least $8 million more into the campaign to pass I‑1634 — and possibly much more.
Coke, Pepsi, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, and Red Bull all make sugary beverages (including their eponymous products as well as Sprite, Mountain Dew, Fanta, Gatorade, etc.) and have a vested interest in keeping the prices of their sugary products low so as to encourage people to continue buying them.
And that’s despite the fact that Coke and Pepsi have already diversified their product lines so as to be less dependent on soda. As most readers probably know, Coke and Pepsi are also in the business of selling bottled water in single use containers, which is environmentally destructive. It’s a business they’ve invested a lot of money in creating, as Annie Leonard explains in The Story of Bottled Water:
NPI has taken a position opposing Initiative 1634. Although it is destined to appear on the November ballot thanks to the big money behind it, we urge you to decline to sign the measure if asked, and to vote NO this November. Cities and counties shouldn’t be precluded from raising money for public health needs just because Big Soda wants to keep prices of unhealthy sugary beverages as low as possible.