Big Soda is using Bernie Sanders’ image to fight a proposed soda tax and Sanders isn’t having it

Big Soda just washed Bernie Sanders into it’s anti-tax fight.
Big Soda just washed Bernie Sanders into it’s anti-tax fight.
Image: Reuters/Sam Hodgson
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Don’t Coke and Pepsi have enough on their hands fighting soda taxes? Apparently not. The beverage industry has now taken on Bernie Sanders.

At least one anti-soda tax ad paid for by the American Beverage Association in San Francisco and Oakland, California, incorporates senator Bernie Sanders, hero to liberal progressives. The problem is, Sanders isn’t having it.

An attorney for the senator’s campaign sent a letter of protest to Heather Podesta + Partners, a Washington DC lobbying firm that represents the ABA, according to Politico, which obtained a copy of the letter.

“We have no record of granting you permission to exploit Bernie Sanders’ likeness or to suggest any connection between Bernie Sanders and the American Beverage Association,” the letter reads. “You are hereby requested to cease all such use.” Federal disclosure documents show the ABA has paid the lobbying group $330,000 so far this year.

An attorney for the American Beverage Association fired back a response days later.

“The ads in question accurately repeat the senator’s own publicly-stated position, as a public figure, on the “soda tax” proposed by the City of Philadelphia earlier this year,” the response reads. “The ads are very clear that his comments were made in connection with that tax.”

The scuffle over soda taxes comes as Americans are consuming fewer sugary drinks amid growing concern over their impact on health, particularly Type 2 diabetes and obesity.

Aside from negative headlines surrounding taxes, sugar-heavy industries have fallen under more fire in recent months. In September, the sugar industry was the subject of an article claiming it paid for nutrition research in the 1960s to downplay evidence linking America’s rising sugar consumption to heart disease. And on Oct. 22, the Sydney Morning Herald reported Coca-Cola had a secret plan to monitor research by groups and researchers it deemed anti-soda.