Taxpayers on the hook for anti-soda lobbying campaigns

posted at 1:10 pm on April 2, 2012 by Rob Bluey

Members of Congress are turning up the heat on the Obama administration for doling out millions of dollars in grant money that was used to attack soda and, in some case, lobby for higher taxes.

As part of President Obama’s stimulus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided grants to communities for a variety of anti-obesity measures, including advertisements. The funding is part of a $230 million initiative called “Communities Putting Prevention to Work.” In many cases, the funds were used to attack American-made products like Coke and Pepsi.

Now lawmakers want to know why some communities, including the city of Philadelphia, appear to have used the federal funding to lobby for new taxes on those products.

During a recent congressional hearing, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was asked to explain the administration’s position on lobbying with federal grant money. She implied it was appropriate for communities to spend the money on such activities — at least until Congress prohibited it last year.

Reps. Ed Whitfield (R-KY) and Brett Guthrie (R-KY) sent Sebelius a follow-up letter asking for clarity and seeking an investigation. Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL) pressed Sebelius for answers at a recent hearing:

At least five grant recipients — Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii Iowa and the county of St. Louis, Missouri — used the money to secure support for legislation. Several others, including Delaware, Missouri, Nevada, New York and Philadelphia, lobbied for the introduction of legislation.

An even larger number — Philadelphia, Cook County (IL), King County (WA), Jefferson County (AL), Delaware, Nevada, New York and Chicago — reportedly used the money to lobby for tax increases.

In Philadelphia, Mayor Michael Nutter has personally led a campaign to tax soda products. Documents showed how the city used a federally funded advertising campaign to press for passage of the tax hike. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported last month:

The American Beverage Association in 2011 hit Philadelphia and several other cities with requests for records on how federal money was used to craft anti-soda messages.

The requests in Philadelphia yielded several 2010 e-mails from Department of Public Health officials describing the urgency of getting advertisements out before the Council soda-tax vote.

In one e-mail to an advertising agency executive, Giridhar Mallya, Health Department director of policy and planning, recommended focusing print and online ads on “the harms of sugar-sweetened beverages.”

“We may also want to target media in certain Council districts,” he wrote, noting the date of the Council vote.

“The documents really speak for themselves,” said Chris Gindlesperger, American Beverage Association spokesman. “At a time when the city claims to lack resources, the city spends millions on attack ads instead of on programs that would have a meaningful impact on the community.”

This isn’t the first time the anti-soda campaign has faced criticism. In Philadelphia, the city spent $2.4 million on ads attacking soda. That was enough money to add 52 police officers, 54 firemen, 57 paramedics, 58 teachers or 88 EMTs. New York’s “Pouring on the Pounds” campaign used grotesque pictures and misleading information that even the city’s chief nutritionist called into question. The city received $15.5 million in federal funding for its anti-obesity efforts.

Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN) recently introduced a bill to counter this growing trend of anti-obesity ads. DesJarlais’ legislation would prohibit the use of federal money for advertisements attacking soda.


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why should this surprise anyone?

upinak on April 2, 2012 at 1:12 PM

Government lobbying government for higher taxes. Isn’t that just typical.

lorien1973 on April 2, 2012 at 1:12 PM

In Philadelphia, the city spent $2.4 million on ads attacking soda. That was enough money to add 52 police officers, 54 firemen, 57 paramedics, 58 teachers or 88 EMTs. New York’s “Pouring on the Pounds” campaign used grotesque pictures and misleading information that even the city’s chief nutritionist called into question. The city received $15.5 million in federal funding for its anti-obesity efforts.

If everyone was the proper weight, we wouldn’t need all of those emergency services…proper weight would lower unemployment, lower energy costs, and the economy would boom…it is the Republicans who want to keep people fat and unemployed…basically the left’s argument.

right2bright on April 2, 2012 at 1:17 PM

Did any of those ads mention that carbonated sodas are FULL of that deadly greenhouse gas CO2? Soda causes globull warming….///

dentarthurdent on April 2, 2012 at 1:17 PM

Wait a minute…I just realized, the left says we want to starve seniors, starve children, and starve minorities…while forcing them to overeat and be obese…the left is just so nutty…

right2bright on April 2, 2012 at 1:18 PM

More pro-Dimocrat “walking around money” courtesy of the Chicago grifters…

I’m shocked, shocked I tell you!!

Khun Joe on April 2, 2012 at 1:19 PM

Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-TN) recently introduced a bill to counter this growing trend of anti-obesity ads. DesJarlais’ legislation would prohibit the use of federal money for advertisements attacking soda.

How about legislation that prohibits doling out federal money to state and local governments period?

Bitter Clinger on April 2, 2012 at 1:19 PM

Isn’t it nice, we subsidize corn syrup and then tax the stuff in soda pop. Taxed at both ends, its what government does best.

oryguncon on April 2, 2012 at 1:20 PM

In Ohio, the soda tax has been a long legacy of that “great” Republican governor and, later, Senator “Crying George” Voinovich.

Bitter Clinger on April 2, 2012 at 1:20 PM

The next HHS Bull: Coverage shall not be granted to the subscribers or their benefactors who drink soda with sugar.

Axeman on April 2, 2012 at 1:22 PM

Where is Congress oversight!! I do not want my tax dollars going for programs the Federal Regulatory Agencies feel like just spending with no repercussions. This is isane spending of monies. The spending is way out of control. Get Big Government out of ny life!

karlinsync on April 2, 2012 at 1:23 PM

Wait a minute…I just realized, the left says we want to starve seniors, starve children, and starve minorities…while forcing them to overeat and be obese…the left is just so nutty…

right2bright on April 2, 2012 at 1:18 PM

I always get a kick out of the radio PSA’s for kids who are hungry. I haven’t seen too many of the Ethiopian-type walking skeletons in this country.

Bitter Clinger on April 2, 2012 at 1:23 PM

That doesn’t look like soda that the guy in the picture is drinking. Looks more like iced tea.

Bitter Clinger on April 2, 2012 at 1:25 PM

Secretary Syphilis wants to take away my Coke.

That just will not happen.

BobMbx on April 2, 2012 at 1:25 PM

why should this surprise anyone?

upinak on April 2, 2012 at 1:12 PM

It’s the National Socialist Left attacking another Liberty using our money – it doesn’t surprise me at all.

“The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield, and government to gain ground.” Thomas Jefferson

Chip on April 2, 2012 at 1:28 PM

Follow the money. I will bet that some of these politicians got some campaign contributions from tea industry lobbyists. ;)

gravityman on April 2, 2012 at 1:30 PM

Where is Congress oversight!!

karlinsync on April 2, 2012 at 1:23 PM

You may find Congressional oversight conveniently left at the door of every K Street lobbying firm. Congressmen and Senators check oversight at the door everytime a lobbyist successfully bends their ear.

MessesWithTexas on April 2, 2012 at 1:33 PM

Follow the money. I will bet that some of these politicians got some campaign contributions from tea industry lobbyists. ;)

gravityman on April 2, 2012 at 1:30 PM

That’s the ticket….. I’ll bet Rush Limbaugh is secretly working with Obummer on this to boost his 2 if by Tea sales…../

dentarthurdent on April 2, 2012 at 1:36 PM

I say go for it Obama…

Pepsico is in NY state – we all know Coke is in Georgia.

2 American Fortune 50 companies with a few hundred thousand jobs in bottling and manufacturing alone across all 50 states… stocks reside in roughly 10,000 different financial products.

Oh – and Teamsters to boot.

Odie1941 on April 2, 2012 at 1:40 PM

The f**k is the dude in that pic drinking?

MadisonConservative on April 2, 2012 at 1:40 PM

That’s the ticket….. I’ll bet Rush Limbaugh is secretly working with Obummer on this to boost his 2 if by Tea sales…../

dentarthurdent on April 2, 2012 at 1:36 PM

Along the same lines, how does this square with Biden’s love for Dr Pepper?
/

Bitter Clinger on April 2, 2012 at 1:41 PM

Spending tax money to lobby for more taxes? That should make it to one of Romney’s ads, that’s for sure. He should pound on the fact that the increase is a sales tax, which means even the Obama’s FSA (free shit army) members pay it.

That said, both Cola and Pepsi are liquid crap. Both are classified as Hazmat for transportation purposes, and anyone who ever spilled either on a metal surface and forgot to wipe knows why.

Archivarix on April 2, 2012 at 1:49 PM

I gave up soda a decade ago.

It was either that or beer and it was no contest.

NoDonkey on April 2, 2012 at 1:54 PM

Be interested in knowing WHO the ad companies are that got the contracts. Can we day DEMOCRATIC DONORS?

On another note, don’t expect anyone to go to jail. MeatHead Rob Reiner used California First Five funds (in the millions) to place political ads during election season. As “punishment”, they threw his ass off the First Five commission.

Should have thrown his fat ass in jail for embezzlement.

GarandFan on April 2, 2012 at 1:59 PM

They’ll take my coca-cola outa my very cold dead fingers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I’ll give them my guns but, only if they take them lead first…………

angrymike on April 2, 2012 at 2:01 PM

Would love to have O’Reilly’s body language expert analyze Cruella. The picking up and putting down of pens and glasses, the frequent touching of her hair must indicate something sinister.

ctmom on April 2, 2012 at 2:05 PM

While they’re at it, let’s take a look at how they’re using taxpayer money for public service announcements in an attempt to try to influence support for Obamacare. I heard at least two spots this morning on Fox which started with variations of “thanks to the new healthcare law…”.
Not the first time either.

Murf76 on April 2, 2012 at 2:09 PM

Lawmakers press HHS secretary for answers

The answer is this is what fascists DO!

locomotivebreath1901 on April 2, 2012 at 2:21 PM

I always get a kick out of the radio PSA’s for kids who are hungry. I haven’t seen too many of the Ethiopian-type walking skeletons in this country.

Bitter Clinger on April 2, 2012 at 1:23 PM

Wal-Mart is a great example…as is our local Piggly Wiggly…good grief, they need wider aisles, the poorer the community.

right2bright on April 2, 2012 at 2:24 PM

First they came for the Pepsi drinkers….

tommer74 on April 2, 2012 at 2:26 PM

Pepsico is in NY state – we all know Coke is in Georgia.

2 American Fortune 50 companies with a few hundred thousand jobs in bottling and manufacturing alone across all 50 states… stocks reside in roughly 10,000 different financial products.

Oh – and Teamsters to boot.

Odie1941 on April 2, 2012 at 1:40 PM

And it has electrolytes……

dentarthurdent on April 2, 2012 at 2:28 PM

From my ice cold hands.

CurtZHP on April 2, 2012 at 2:31 PM

Notice they never go after the beer industry? Could it be that the Rev. Jackson’s family is so heavily invested…that they are the distributors of Budweiser? That is was literally given to them, and that Jessie sometimes refers to his son’s as Bud and Bud-Light…beer kills more people than Cola’s do…

right2bright on April 2, 2012 at 2:31 PM

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! They spelled her name wrong on the desk name tag. They put an “N” in there.

NapaConservative on April 2, 2012 at 2:33 PM

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! They spelled her name wrong on the desk name tag. They put an “N” in there.

NapaConservative on April 2, 2012 at 2:33 PM

+10!

TugboatPhil on April 2, 2012 at 2:40 PM

NapaConservative on April 2, 2012 at 2:33 PM

Is that really necessary? Is every woman you disagree with a prostitute now? Instead of calling Sebelius a ho, would it be too much of a challenge to find a political position she holds that you can make an actual argument against?

Time Lord on April 2, 2012 at 2:45 PM

Notice they never go after the beer industry?

Beer is healthy and part of my Anglo-Saxon heritage.

Soda pop is for children and other people who don’t vote.

NoDonkey on April 2, 2012 at 2:50 PM

Bring back the earmarks please. At least we will know where the money is going. Without earmarks, Obama gets to spend it all the way he wants.

timberline on April 2, 2012 at 2:54 PM

Is every woman you disagree with a prostitute now?

Time Lord on April 2, 2012 at 2:45 PM

???

NapaConservative on April 2, 2012 at 2:55 PM

Wonder who authorized the money for these bureaucracies?

Bueller? Anyone?

marinetbryant on April 2, 2012 at 2:58 PM

While they’re at it, let’s take a look at how they’re using taxpayer money for public service announcements in an attempt to try to influence support for Obamacare. I heard at least two spots this morning on Fox which started with variations of “thanks to the new healthcare law…”.
Not the first time either.

Murf76 on April 2, 2012 at 2:09 PM

Ironic isn’t it that Fox is one of the strongest dissenters of Obamacare but somehow seem eager to take their advertising dollars.
Money talks…sh1t walks.

timberline on April 2, 2012 at 2:59 PM

And another thing, keep federal $ away from pro-Obamacare advertising campaigns, like the one with sellout putz Andy Griffith.

anotherJoe on April 2, 2012 at 3:35 PM

The f**k is the dude in that pic drinking?

MadisonConservative on April 2, 2012 at 1:40 PM

HOME MADE BEER!

KOOLAID2 on April 2, 2012 at 4:03 PM

How Fluken Nuts!
These people are insane!
Nanny Nitwits!
Make them go away people!

KOOLAID2 on April 2, 2012 at 4:09 PM

Lobbying against ourselves. Outlaw soda and only outlaws will have soda. But y’know, it’s not hard to make the case whenever I get gas and see some bowling ball-bodied 350-pound future diabetic woman leaving the mini-mart with TWO 50-ounce sodas, that you just know are not diet Sprites, and she gets into an empty car. Just like they say, the worst thing about capitalism is capitalists, the worst thing about soda drinking are soda drinkers.

In any case, though, whatevs, the first thing an all Republican government needs to do if we ever get one is suh-LASH the Executive Branch Departments’ budget for these kinds of things, and many others. Hopefully a President Romney will be amenable to that. Not holding breath.

curved space on April 2, 2012 at 4:26 PM

The board of directors and many of the management team were big obama donors in 2008, will they do their job and protect the share holders interest this year?

dunce on April 2, 2012 at 6:31 PM

Did any of those ads mention that carbonated sodas are FULL of that deadly greenhouse gas CO2? Soda causes globull warming….///

dentarthurdent on April 2, 2012 at 1:17 PM

Great… now you will get the EPA involved. I will have to make my Cherry Coke Zero in the woods like a moonshiner if these leftist jerks keep it up.

Wolftech on April 2, 2012 at 7:33 PM