California judge: Richmond cannot require anti-soda tax group to disclose donors
I’m following the soda tax initiative in Richmond, CA with rapt attention. Richmond, as I explained last week, is a low-income city with a lot of obesity-related chronic disease and high soda consumption.
Residents will vote on its soda tax initiative in November. In the meantime, the American Beverage Association has gone to work to spin the science, attack critics, and fund “community coalition” groups to oppose the initiative.
Richmond requires such groups to disclose their top donors on political mailings. The soda-industry funded “Coalition” went to court to block this requirement on First Amendment grounds.
Now, according to Robert Rogers, the terrific reporter for the Contra Costa Times who has been working on this story, a federal judge in San Francisco issued a temporary restraining order doing just that.
Complete victory for our side,” said coalition spokesman Chuck Finnie. “(Judge Charles Breyer) indicated he doesn’t think (the ordinance) applies to us because we are not engaged in independent expenditures. (Breyer) indicated a city can’t require a campaign to publish political arguments under the guise of claiming it is a disclosure.
This will be back in court on September 18.
In the meantime, “Big Soda” is expected to spend more than a million dollars in Richmond to make its efforts look like a local campaign.
Here is the Statement on Ruling on Richmond Mailer Ordinance.
And here are related Contra Costa Times stories on the soda tax initiative.
- Poll: Should Richmond add a tax to sodas and other sugared drinks?
- Actor Danny Glover comes out in support of Richmond soda tax ballot measure
- Barnidge: Voters should be prepared for a lot of taxing issues
- Big money from ‘Big Soda’ sloshes around Richmond’s controversial sugar-tax measure
- Groups take sides in Richmond soda tax debate
- El Monte joins Richmond, becomes second California city to propose soda tax