Bloomberg to back soda tax in Berkeley

In Berkeley, Calif., where a campaign is on to persuade voters to impose a 1-cent-an-ounce tax on sugary drinks, the spending fight has been lopsided indeed: Proponents of the tax had raised $135,000 as of last week, compared with $1.4 million spent by the beverage industry, which has successfully blocked just about every attempt nationally to levy such a tax. In Berkeley, a city of 117,000, that amounts to nearly $12 per resident spent to defeat the ballot measure.

Now, Michael R. Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York who has made a campaign of trying to curb consumption of sugary drinks, is throwing in some financial weight. Aides said that he had decided to spend money in Berkeley to help counter the beverage industry, most likely by paying for mailings and get-out-the-vote efforts. His first contribution was $85,000, but the aides would not say how much he intended to donate over the course of the campaign.

“We want to come in and try to equalize the spending disparity, which is enormous,” said Howard Wolfson, a senior adviser to Mr. Bloomberg.

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