NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tuesday, June 12th, 2018

Coke, Pepsi pour more money into Initiative 1634; measure now has $2.9 million behind it

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)

0525WA FOOD INDUSTRY ASSOCIATIONOLYMPIAWA$20,000.00
0523PEPSICO, INC.PURCHASENY$383,945.28
0523DR PEPPER SNAPPLE GROUP, INC.PLANOTX$159,316.55
0523THE COCA-COLA COMPANYATLANTAGA$509,225.49
0523RED BULL NORTH AMERICASANTA MONICACA$12,512.68
0416RED BULL NORTH AMERICASANTA MONICACA$21,735.65
0416PEPSICO, INC.PURCHASENY$666,947.20
0416THE COCA-COLA COMPANYATLANTAGA$884,570.10
0416DR PEPPER SNAPPLE GROUP, INC.PLANOTX$276,747.05
0308RED BULL NORTH AMERICASANTA MONICACA$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.

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