‘Karmic debt’

A former Coke executive working on the side of healthy food:

The logic behind these moves has been repeated so often it is practically a mantra: The nation is in the throes of an obesity crisis and sodas account for an outsize share of the sugar pouring into American bellies.

Putman, 51, shares that view. But he is also driven by another motive: From 1997 to mid-2000, he was a top marketing executive at Coca-Cola.

“It took me 10 years to figure out that I have a large karmic debt to pay for the number of Cokes I sold across this country,” he said.

On Thursday, he came to settle it.

He wanted to give an inside account of what he contends has been a drive by Coca-Cola to replace not just its direct competitors but all beverages in the American diet — a campaign for what the company called “share of stomach.” He wanted to warn about the industry’s particular focus on young people and minorities.

But mostly he wanted to level the playing field.

“I’m not against soft drinks per se,” he began carefully. “What I am for is balance of power. And I think the power has shifted in the wrong direction. The resources, the scale, the intelligence, the strategy these companies use is intense.

“We need to take all that thinking . . . all that strategy and convert it — jujitsu it — to healthy products.”

Honestly, I don’t see why they can’t outlaw the sale of sodas to kids under 18. When my ex and I owned a neighborhood ice cream store, kids would come by on their way to school and buy big sodas – and a bag of barbecue potato chips. Nobody’s kids should eat like that.

Money money money

And this is why they don’t want to change: Too many people (and media outlets) get rich off all this:

WASHINGTON — Secret campaign money is making its big comeback in 2012, playing an important role in a presidential election for the first time since corporate titans flew into the nation’s capital in the early 1970s carrying satchels of cash for Richard Nixon’s slush funds.

For the country’s top political consultants and media buyers, that means a huge new revenue stream — and long shadows to hide in.

Campaign committees and super PACs need to report to the Federal Election Commission who they pay and how much they pay them. According to a Huffington Post analysis, the top 150 consultants and media buyers have already grossed $466 million so far this election cycle.

But there’s a whole other stream of money flowing through the system covertly, thanks to politically active groups that exploit a non-profit status — under sections 501(c)(4) and 501(c)(6) of the tax code — intended for social welfare organizations and trade associations. That status allows them to hide their donors entirely, and to report their spending not to the FEC, but to the Internal Revenue Service, as much as 18 months later, and in a limited fashion.

Some of the election’s biggest advertising buys have come from these non-profit groups. A Huffington Post analysis of the scant information available — mostly press releases and news reports — finds that they have spent more than $80 million on campaign-related advertisements, while disclosing to the government only a tiny slice of where that money went.


What a great keynote from my pal Darcy Burner yesterday at Netroots Nation. Watch this, you’ll like it!

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