Summary: MAPDA has hired a high-priced lobbyist to serve as executive while it fights the implementation of TCI. Ellen Valentino is copying-and-pasting her big soda playbook on behalf of the oil industry to fight TCI.

The Mid Atlantic Petroleum Distributors Association (MAPDA) is the lobbying arm of petroleum distributors in Maryland, Delaware, and the District of Columbia. The association’s membership have clear financial motivations to sell more gasoline, and the group has been a very aggressive opponent of TCI since the initiative was first announced. 

The petroleum association has hired high-priced D.C. corporate lobbyist Ellen Valentino to fight TCI, paying her hundreds of thousands a year to turn public opinion and political will against the program. She currently serves—simultaneously—as the Executive officer for both the Mid-Atlantic Petroleum Distributors Association and the Maryland, Delaware, DC Beverage Association. Valentino has led the beverage industry’s past campaigns against public health initiatives.

Adept at corporate-funded misinformation, Valentino is an experienced industry hired gun who has a cookie-cutter campaign style. Valentino’s formulaic, anti-TCI attacks are strikingly similar or nearly identical to language she uses to attack public health policies aimed at reducing soda consumption on behalf of Big Soda. 

The misinformation has already begun. MAPDA and Valentino have blatantly misled, making up costs for consumers before the details of the program have been made public.

They’ve funded and distributed a bogus, industry funded poll to deceive policymakers on public opinion of the proposed program, submitting it to the TCI portal as public commentary. The poll, unsurprisingly lines up neatly with Valentino’s outlandish—but predictable—suggested talking points to MAPDA members

MAPDA has coordinated at least two action alerts asking its members to submit public comments opposing TCI.