FreedomWorks, Run By Former Beverage Industry Lobbyist Dick Armey, Launches Attack Against Soda Tax

ap970727022001 Yesterday, Dick Armey’s FreedomWorks sent out an e-mail urging its followers to “help us defeat the national soda tax,” which “liberals” want to use to “pay for government-run health care.” From the e-mail:

Some liberals in Congress have proposed paying for government-run health care by hiking taxes on soft drinks and other beverages. Because the socialized health care schemes being considered will cost at least a trillion dollars, liberal politicians are looking for ways to pay for their schemes without upsetting too many folks. So they think that a tax on soft drinks is better than any other type of tax. They are wrong, and need to understand this message loud and clear: NO NEW TAXES!

As National Journal notes, the the beverage tax was “promoted by the Center for Science in the Public Interest” and just “one of many ideas presented to the Senate Finance Committee in a roundtable discussion.”

So why is Armey so interested in stopping the soda tax? Armey, the former Republican House Majority Leader, is now a lobbyist for DLA Piper. In 2008, DLA Piper represented Diageo, an international beverage business. Diageo paid DLA $720,000 that year for lobbying expenses, and Armey was one of the lobbyists working on Diageo’s case.

As ThinkProgress has reported in the past, Armey has consistently used his FreedomWorks organization to support the interests of his lobbying clients:

— Armey’s FreedomWorks is actively organizing against health care reform. Not coincidentally, Armey’s lobbying firm represents pharmaceutical companies, such as Bristol-Myers Squibb, that oppose comparative effectiveness research in the health reform plan because such a program may cut into revenue for branded drugs.

— Armey’s lobbying firm represents the trade group for the life insurance industry. In return, FreedomWorks mobilizes its members for deregulated life insurance reform.

— Currently, FreedomWorks is focusing their energy activism on supporting the status quo reliance on fossil fuels. In addition to working for various domestic oil companies with a vested interest in opposing change, Armey’s lobbying firm represents Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister of the UAE, on energy related issues such as maintaining the U.S.-UAE relationship where “U.S companies have played major roles in the development of UAE energy resources, which represent about 10 percent of global oil reserves.”

— In 2006, Armey’s lobbying firm represented the Senado de Republica (Mexican Senate) on “enhancing U.S.-Mexico relations,” and specifically on immigration policy. Curiously, during the same period, Armey’s Freedom Works stood out as one of the few right wing organizations to boldly support comprehensive immigration reform.

Last year, the Wall Street Journal also exposed FreedomWorks for building “amateur-looking” websites to promote the lobbying interests of Armey.