Campaign donations reach record levels in Berkeley; beverage companies donate $1.4M to defeat soda tax

Roger Salazar (left) and Josh Daniels (right) argue the merits of Measure D, a proposed tax on sugary beverages, at an election event on Oct. 6. Salazar is a spokesman for the No on D campaign, and Daniels is co-chair of the Yes on D campaign. Photo: Mark Coplan
Dustan Batton (left) and Josh Daniels (right) argue the merits of Measure D, a proposed tax on sugary beverages, at an election event Oct. 6. Batton is a lobbyist for the No on D campaign, and Daniels is co-chair of the Yes on D campaign. Photo: Mark Coplan

The beverage industry in recent days contributed another $600,000 to its fight to defeat Measure D, a proposed tax in Berkeley on sugary beverages, bringing the amount it has given so far to $1.4 million.

The contribution comes on top of $7.7 million the beverage industry has donated to stop a similar soda tax measure on San Francisco’s ballot. The Measure D campaign had already won the distinction of being the most expensive in Berkeley, and the new contribution made Oct. 1 only accentuates that fact. The beverage industry spent more than $2.6 million to defeat a similar tax in Richmond in 2012.

Supporters of Measure D, in contrast, have raised $136,585 to date, with around $52,617 coming in during the last few weeks. Contributors to that effort include Berkeley City Councilman Laurie Capitelli, who has donated $9,820; City Councilwoman Linda Maio has given $5,260; the Berkeley Federation of Teachers, which gave $2,000; Monterey Market, which gave $4,000; The Public Health Institute of Oakland donated $3,000; The California Federation of Teachers, which has given $2,000; the Ecology Center, which just gave $3,000 in cash on top of $11,368 in in-kind donations; and the UC Berkeley School of Public Health Advocacy Initiative, which has contributed almost $9,840.

Campaign contribution reports were due Oct. 6.  Berkeley law requires any donation of $1,000 to be reported to the City Clerk within 24 hours. Starting Oct. 19, contributions between $100 and $999 have to be reported to the City Clerk within 48 hours.


The American Beverage Association California PAC, or Political Action Committee, has spent thousands of dollars on its No on Measure D campaign, placing full-page ads in local media, including Berkeleyside and The Daily Californian, among other outlets. It is also running television ads.

KTVU Channel 2 recently did a story that showed some people, who were not identified, removing No on D signs around Berkeley. A spokesman for the Yes on D campaign said the organization is not telling people to remove signs, but has not told them not to either. But the news clip demonstrated how strongly people feel about the sugary beverage tax of one cent per ounce. Op-eds published on Berkeleyside, and the hundreds of comments they have prompted, also underscore how heated the debate is. The tax would be levied on distributors of soda and other sweetened beverages and presumably passed on to consumers at the retail level.

Big spending on Measure R, the downtown initiative

Tim Frank, the chair of the No on R campaign, tells member of the Claremont-Elmwood Neighborhood Association his views on the ballot measure. Jesse Arreguin, left, presented the Yes on R position. Photo: Mark Coplan
Tim Frank, the chair of the No on R campaign, gives members of the Claremont-Elmwood Neighborhood Association his views on the ballot measure. Jesse Arreguín, left, presented the Yes on R position. Photo: Mark Coplan

The fight over the future of Berkeley’s downtown is also drawing in large dollars.

The No on Measure R campaign, which is opposing a detailed measure that would change height limits and impose stricter environmental and labor requirements on buildings over 60 feet, collected $136,265 in donations in the last reporting period. That brings to $156,984 the amount the campaign has raised. In contrast, the Yes on R campaign raised $8,450 since Aug. 1, bringing its total donations to $16,555.

The vast majority of donors to the No on R campaign are developers and property owners, although Mayor Tom Bates and Berkeley City Councilman Gordon Wozniak each gave $1,000. Bates also lent the campaign $10,000.


Other donors include:

  • The California Association of Realtors PAC donated $50,000.
  • Panoramic Interests, owned by Patrick Kennedy, paid $10,000 for a poll, bringing its donation to $20,000.
  • HSR Berkeley Investments, which wants to construct 355 residences around the former Hinks Building on Shattuck Avenue, has given $7,500.
  • Equity Residential, the Sam Zell company that is building Acheson Commons, a large apartment complex on University and Shattuck, donated $5,000.
  • Eddie Orton, who developed the Flint Inc. building in West Berkeley, donated $5,000.
  • Jay Lakireddi, a contractor and property owner, gave $4,500.
  • Ruegg and Ellsworth, who hope to develop the Spenger’s parking lot, gave $2,500.
  • The Austin Group, currently developing the 78-unit building called The Durant, gave $5,000.
  • Center Street Partners, which wants to develop a hotel at Shattuck and Center streets, donated $3,000. (Those developers say they have put their plans on hold pending the outcome of November’s vote, however.)
  • Shorenstein Realty Services donated $1,000.
  • The district council of the Iron Workers of California donated $7,500.
  • PG&E donated $2,500.

The Yes on R campaign has many contributions in the $250 range, according to campaign finance records. Here are the large donations:

  • The Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association contributed $5,000.
  • The Sheet Metals International Local Union 104 donated $1,000.
  • Timothy Hansen, the project manager for Gladstone Management, gave $2,000, bringing his total contribution to $2,500.
  • Sophie Hahn, a member of the Zoning Adjustments Board, has donated $1,223.

Read past Berkeleyside coverage of the soda tax, more on Measure R and complete 2014 Election coverage.

Related:
Beverage companies donate $800,000 to fight soda tax (09.22.14)
Judge changes Berkeley soda tax ballot measure (09.04.14)
Berkeley councilman faces PR man in ‘soda tax’ debate (07.30.14)
Berkeley puts sugar tax on November ballot (07.02.14)
Plans firm up for Berkeley soda tax, city parks measures (05.21.14)
Community survey shows difficulties for ballot measures (05.06.14)
Sugar tax hits the sweet spot for Berkeley residents (03.14.14)
Will Berkeley be first in nation to impose soda tax? (02.12.14)

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