Coke Executives Make Drop Into Christine Quinn's Mayoral Campaign
From The New York Times : Quinn, Cool to Soda Ban, Gets Donations From Coke
By MICHAEL M. GRYNBAUM
Published: January 25, 2013
The American soft-drink industry, fighting Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's restrictions on sugary drink sizes, is courting a lawmaker who could eventually have the influence to overturn the rules: Christine C. Quinn, the City Council speaker and a leading mayoral candidate.
Executives from the Coca-Cola Company donated nearly $10,000 this month to Ms. Quinn's campaign, public records show, days before industry lawyers argued against the mayor's plan in State Supreme Court.
The industry, fearful that New York City's first-in-the-nation limits will erode profits and spawn copycat policies around the country, is hopeful that Mr. Bloomberg's plan can be undone by legislative or executive action once City Hall changes hands at the end of this year.
No other mayoral candidate appeared to benefit from the beverage industry's largess, although several of Ms. Quinn's rivals, including Comptroller John C. Liu and one of his predecessors, William C. Thompson Jr., have been outspoken in their criticism of the drink restrictions.
The Coke executives' campaign contributions represented a noticeable sum for Ms. Quinn, who has expressed unease with the soda limits, which would restrict sales of sugary drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces.
She has suggested that the measure is punitive and will not necessarily be effective at limiting calorie intake, as Mr. Bloomberg has argued. Still, Ms. Quinn, an ally of his, declined to take up legislation to overturn the restrictions, which were approved by the Board of Health last fall and are set to take effect in March.
A spokesman for Ms. Quinn's campaign declined to comment on Friday on the contribution.
The soft-drink industry, which has given millions of dollars to politicians as it fights taxes and restrictions on its products, has aggressively courted New York lawmakers since Mr. Bloomberg unveiled his proposal last spring.
This month, the political arm of Coca-Cola contributed $1,000 to the campaign of Councilwoman Letitia James, a candidate for city public advocate who emerged as a leading opponent of the mayor's plan, records show. In November, Melissa Mark-Viverito, another councilwoman who criticized the mayor's plan, received $75 from a marketing official at PepsiCo.
The contributions to Ms. Quinn, which totaled $9,750 and ranged from $500 to $1,500 apiece, came from 16 high-ranking Coca-Cola employees, some based at the company's Atlanta headquarters, including Clyde C. Tuggle, the senior chief public affairs and communications officer, and Sonya Soutus, a senior vice president for public affairs.
"We support candidates that promote fair policies that enrich the communities and marketplaces where Coca-Cola employees live and work," Gary McElyea, a spokesman for Coca-Cola, said by e-mail.
Officials at Pepsi also contributed $175 each to the campaigns of Daniel R. Garodnick, a councilman, and Reshma Saujani, who is running for public advocate, in the last four months. A manager for Coca-Cola in the Bronx gave $175 to the Council campaign of Robert H. Waterman, a Brooklyn pastor.
A version of this article appeared in print on January 26, 2013, on page A17 of the New York edition with the headline: Quinn, Cool to Soda Ban, Gets Donations From Coke.
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