Soda tax advocates cited by Philly ethics board

(Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

(Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

The leading group that pushed for passage of Philadelphia’s controversial soda tax has agreed to pay $8,000 in civil penalties after the city Board of Ethics cited it and others for violations of the city’s lobbying disclosure law.

Philadelphians for a Fair Future formed in 2016 and raised more than $2 million to promote the tax, which was proposed by Mayor Jim Kenney and opposed by beverage companies, retail grocers, and unions.

The board found that the group gave incomplete information in required reports on its spending.

It failed to disclose that its efforts included “letters to the editor and organizing coalition partners for communications with City Council,” according to a settlement agreement between PFF and the board.

In addition, four companies and individuals PFF employed to do lobbying – Peak Strategic Solutions, Bellevue Strategies, Bellevue Communications Group, and Andrew Dalzell — failed to register with the board as required under the lobbying law.

PFF has agreed to pay the civil penalties for all those cited.

The board investigated PFF’s activities after it received a complaint in January 2017. PFF and all of the related lobbyists “fully cooperated with the investigation,” it said.

“PFF and their associated lobbyists and lobbying firms have acknowledged they have violated the city’s lobbying law by failing to file accurate lobbying and expense reports,” said Michael Cook, the board’s director of enforcement. “They agreed to pay civil fines and penalties for those violations and corrected the reports.”

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