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Michael Bloomberg Bankrolls San Francisco, Oakland Soda Tax Campaigns

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Michael Bloomberg has contributed millions to garner support for soda taxes in San Francisco and Oakland this election cycle.

Bloomberg is waging an anti-sugar crusade in California continuing his legacy of bankrolling soda tax campaigns. He previously contributed funds to successful soda tax campaigns in Philadelphia and Berkeley.

Now the business tycoon and former mayor of New York City has set his sights on San Francisco and Oakland.

Bloomberg has contributed more than $4.7 million to Oakland's Measure HH soda tax measure and $300,000 toward the similar San Francisco Prop. V.

While Oakland's No On Measure HH campaign has received $4.95 million in contributions exclusively from the American Beverage Association California PAC, Bloomberg's co-contributors to the Yes On Measure HH campaign include Chez Panisse restaurant, the American Heart Association and the California Dental Association.

The soda industry has spent over $19 million on efforts to defeat the soda tax in San Francisco this election cycle. The industry previously spent roughly $10 million to defeat a 2014 San Francisco soda tax proposal, according to campaign finance reports on the San Francisco Ethics Commission website.

A new TV ad in the Bay Area features doctors in both Alameda and San Francisco counties, as well as other community leaders, speaking out in favor of the soda tax and the health benefits of reducing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. The ad was paid for exclusively by Bloomberg.

Voices by A Healthy Bay Area on Vimeo

Bi-Rite Market owner Sam Mogannan states in the ad that his store won't be raising the price on groceries, only soda.

Mogannan's statement comes in response to an energetic and expensive campaign launched by opponents of Oakland's Prop. HH and San Francisco's Prop. V that have nicknamed the soda tax a "grocery tax".

Johnathan Butler with the San Francisco NAACP, San Francisco Supervisor Malia Cohen who represents the Bayview District and other Bay Area notables are in Bloomberg's ad championing the benefits of the soda taxes.

A new, industry-funded study on Berkeley's soda tax maintains that the soda tax may be having unintended consequences. The study found an average of 15 percent of the tax being passed through to soda.

An ad opposing the soda tax in Oakland refers to Bloomberg's bankrolling of the soda tax campaign. The ad states that soda taxes raise the cost of groceries and "doesn't hurt billionaires but it hits working families the hardest."

Bloomberg's contributions and political ads favoring soda taxes in U.S. cities are an extension of Bloomberg Philanthropies commitment to tackle obesity, reduce global tobacco use and raise awareness about other public health issues.

Update: As of Nov. 2, Michael Bloomberg had contributed $9.3 million to the Yes on Prop V and $9.1 million to Oakland's Yes On Measure HH.

By Hannah Albarazi - Follow her on Twitter: @hannahalbarazi.

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