Ethics Board Cites Teamsters For Lobbying Against Soda Tax

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Philadelphia Board of Ethics has cited the Teamsters, and their publicist, for unreported lobbying against the sweetened beverage tax.

The Board fined the Teamsters $2000 for failing to file lobbying reports even though, says executive director Shane Creamer, the union engaged in activities that were designed to influence legislation.

“They paid for printed materials for public outreach, and meetings with community and civic groups, and also for members of Philadelphia council,” Creamer said.

In addition to the fine, the teamsters agreed to register, retroactively, to pay the $100 registration fee and to report what they spent by the end of the month, but spokesman Frank Keel says union leader Danny Grace is not happy. He still doesn’t think what the union did was lobbying.

“He has a responsibility to represent his members, to see their work is protected. They have singled him and his union out unfairly for what he was elected to do,” Keel said, warning that it would have a “chilling effect” on organized labor. “Other labor leaders across the city should be paying attention to what happened here: You take a risk by representing your members to the fullest.”

Creamer denied that the union was unfairly singled out: “The Teamsters were well within their rights to lobby City Council last year, but paid efforts to influence legislation – like their paid effort to influence the sugary beverage tax legislation last year – must be disclosed to the public.”

The Board also dinged Keel for not registering as a lobbyist. Keel declined comment on his own case.

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