Meet KillerCoke.org


Melvin (left) & Ray Rogers

The BMG New York Bureau has sprung into action. I moseyed down to 25 Washington Street #302 in the DUMBO section of Brooklyn this afternoon, introduced myself to Ray Rogers, and chatted with him for 90 minutes about his campaign to hold the Coca Cola corporation, and its former General Counsel Deval Patrick, responsible for the company’s criminal behavior, as Mr. Rogers sees it, in Colombia, India, Mexico, Ghana, El Salvador, Turkey, Indonesia, and elsewhere, not to mention the marketing of “nutritionally worthless and damaging products” to children.

“He has not only tolerated and defended companies involved in widespread labor, human rights, and environmental abuses on a worldwide scale, he was one of the highest paid officials involved in making those policies,” Rogers said of Patrick. “No executive of Coca Cola or any of the big oil companies should ever hold any position of public trust, particularly such a high elected office as Governor,” he added. “Our goal is to hold Mr. Patrick accountable and hopefully make sure he is not elected Governor,” he said.


Corporate Campaign Inc.

Rogers said the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke is a project of Corporate Campaign, Inc., a private business he established in 1981. The small operation, staffed in part by volunteers, one of whom I met while waiting for Rogers, and guarded by Melvin, a cat rescued by Rogers, survives on a combination of speaking fees, consulting work for a variety of clients, primarily unions, and donations, Rogers said. Click here for a picture of their office building, which shakes when trains pass on the nearby Manhattan Bridge, and here for a picture of the front door.

Rogers said he established the venture in 1981 as, “a mechanism to empower workers and community groups.” Past projects have included efforts to suport the rights of workers, battle corrupt unions, and keep oil companies out of the Artic National Wildlife Refuge, he said. “We get involved in issues based on what is right and what is wrong,” not based on political party affiliation, he added. He confirmed that the company had paid to print the anti-Patrick flyers that have elicited so much recent discussion here (indeed, he said printing costs are one of his company’s primary expenses). He vehemently denied that he has received any money from any of Patrick’s political rivals in the coming election.

Rogers, who said he was karate chopped in the neck from behind and then dragged to the floor by six beefy security guards while in the middle of delivering a speech as a proxy representative of 3,000 shares at the 2001 Coca Cola annual general meeting — as Deval Patrick watched from the stage, he said — charged that Patrick’s severance payments and Coke’s continuing pension obligations to its former employee make the candidate beholden to the corporation. “This guy who supposedly took the high road then got $2.1 million for a no-show consulting job in 2005. To me, that is a big campaign contribution that skirts the election laws,” he said.

Finally, Rogers said he was not concerned that his own activities might violate Massachusetts campaign finance laws. “We’re not involved in promoting a candidate,” he said.

So there you have it: the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke. I met Rogers just as he returned from a trip to the airport to collect a rental car for a drive tonight to Boston. A third Globe columnist — stay tuned for another installment in the Battle of Morrissey Blvd. on this subject — called while I was in the office. Rogers should be in town Wednesday. The Patrick campaign can consider itself warned.

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30 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. A different take on Mr. Rogers speech to Coke Shareholders

    From CFO.com

    Ray Rogers, reported the wire service, had been shouting and swearing at chairman and chief executive officer Doug Daft during a question-and-answer session at the Hotel du Pont in Wilmington, Delaware. Rogers, the president of Corporate Campaign Inc., has encouraged student protests in support of union workers in Colombia's Coca-Cola bottling plants, according to the Atlanta Business Journal.

    After allowing Rogers to speak for about five minutes — during which he accused Coca-Cola of being "rife with corruption," reported the Journal — the company turned off the audience microphone. When Roger would not stop talking or leave the microphone, added the paper, six plainclothes Wilmington Police officers first tried to move him, then wrestled him to the ground and escorted him from the meeting. Rogers was not injured or arrested, according to the Journal.

    • Jesse Jackson and the Teamsters back Rogers account

      Susan, the very next paragraph is also interesting:

      Civil rights leader Jesse Jackson, who addressed the meeting about minority opportunities at the company — and especially about the recent resignation of general counsel Deval Patrick, Coca-Cola's highest-ranking black executive— criticized the company for removing Rogers with "excessive" force, noted the paper. A Teamsters representative, added the Journal, whose union offered a proposal to split the chairman and CEO positions, said he was "ashamed" at the removal of Rogers.

      Although I'll grant you it also indicates that Jackson supported Deval, and that, since Deval had recently resigned, Rogers' claim that he watched from the stage is called into question.

      • 2001

        The incident is alleged to have happened in 2001:  prior to termination/resignation of Mr. Patrick. 

        • That's weird

          The article Susan linked to mentioned Deval's "recent resignation." Are we talking about two different incidents?

          • The timeline (again)

            1994 - 1996.  5 Union workers killed in Columbia, one of them in Coke affiliated bottling factory.  Factory manager publicly announces he has ordered paramilitary to destroy SINALTRAINAL union.

            2001 Joins Coke as Corporate General Counsel.  Starting salary of $1.5M (SEC report)

            2002 Mr. Patrick receives added title of Corporate Secretary of Coke.  Salary increased to approx. $2.0 annually.

            2003, October 23, 2003. Mr. Patrick, in a public event sponsored by "Equal Justice Works" in Washington, DC, offered to create an independent body to investigate the allegations made against Coca-Cola. Coke CEO Douglas Daft rejected the idea.

            March or April 2004 resigns or is terminated, announcing it on Easter Sunday after the info was leaked. Agreed to resign effective 12/31/04.

            Some sources indicate $2.1M consult fee or severance was paid to him in 3 payments during 2004.  Mr. Patrick has publicly stated that he did not seek severance.

  2. Superficiality alert

    It's a minor thing, but between Ray Rogers and spooky class action guy, visiting this page is going to start giving me nightmares.  There have got to be some attractive women (heck, at this point, I'd settle for cute animals) that we could gratuitously mention on a front-page post just to balance what we have now.  Heck, even a line-up of the LG candidates. 

    sabutai   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
  3. Ray Rogers - What are his incentives?

    Ray Rogers was a Bostonian, still has a heavy Boston accent, and his father worked as a lathe operator at GE in Lynn.  He certainly cares about union workers, and has ties to Massachusetts.  However, a simple Google search shows you that he earns his living by charging unions to be an agitator - not doing speaking gigs.  He receives money from a number of unions, not always just one or two at a time, who finance his "campaigns".

    He tries his best to keep as many of the unions in good favor as possible, and in turn they support his campaigns.  The more effective he is at his campaigns and the more he supports his unions by getting several other unions to collaborate for his boycotts and other campaign tactics, the more money he can charge (and the more his activist reputation grows).  His current campaign being "Killer Coke", he certainly would be active in politicking to find as many other union supporters as possible.  Ray has spoken at conferences and at union meetings, and has dealings with many of the major unions, and many of the key people including at unions like SEIU.

    Looking at KillerCoke's newsletters, On June 8, 2006, Ray Rogers wrote a reaction to Deval Patrick's disclosures about his finances involving Coke.  In July, 2006, SEIU 1199, which is a huge & influential 275,000 member union around here, removed Coke machines from their facilities and passed a resolution to boycott Coke.  This was in response to, and in cooperation with, Killer Coke aka Ray Rogers (he seems to have had dealings with them as early as 2004).  The SEIU 1199 resolution was entitled - exactly as follows: "In Solidarity with Colombian Workers and Against 'Killer Coke'". 

    SEIU 1199 is the one of the first unions to endorse Reilly, it also appears to be the largest (NAGE is only 22,000).  Reilly had very few union endorsements compared to the other candidates, and still does, relatively.  Reilly clearly has connections to SEIU 1199, as they are such a large union to come out early for him.  There are also obvious ties between SEIU 1199 and Rogers; I would not be surprised if a few of them volunteered to hand out flyers for him - in fact, if you see Ray, take pictures of him & his crew and post on BMG.

    The next month, as the SEIU is ratifying this major achievement for Killer Coke (and really, looking at his newsletters, this was one of the biggest direct wins for him in recent times), we see Ray Rogers finally decide to come down and campaign against Deval.

    Ray Rogers certainly seems to be on the side of unions, and really does not like Coke.  However, looking at his past on Google, he does not seem to be that nice of a guy.  He is described as militant and as he is not independently wealthy, he does what he does to make a living.  Do we really believe he printed 30,000 flyers, rented a car, and came all the way to Boston by himself to heckle Patrick on his own?  Is it simply to raise awareness for his cause - or does it kill another bird with the same stone and scratch the back of SEIU 1199?  Or was it prompted, by the largely Reilly-supporting SEIU 1199 as a response to Rogers' attempt to influence the campaign when he wrote on June 8: "We are seeking individuals and organizations that would like to help expose Deval Patrick’s and Coke’s deplorable record to Massachusetts’ voters. Please contact us at stopkillercoke@aol.com or (718) 852-2808"?  Could it have been a non-monetary exchange of favors, or perhaps orchestrated by Reilly campaign insiders? 

    Rogers has a history of printing and handing out 100,000 or more flyers for campaigns, distributed sometimes by teams of 80 or more volunteers - however, in this case, 30,000 flyers well before the primary, and he currently plans to disrupt one week of Patrick's campaign events - which may have a several week aftershock.  Will CCI be paying for this printing, all this gas and Ray's salary during this time?  Why did it take Ray from June 8 until now to do this - as Reilly's numbers have been creeping lower and lower?  Gabrielli has a little to gain, but not much (he is also a corporate guy who has taken a lot of money from various corporate dealings); Reilly clearly has the most to gain, since his background as a public servant makes him the only one completely immune from the corporate money-hugging message, he would pick up most of the lost Deval votes following this campaign. 

    I think this should be studied further.

    • Let's not be squeamish

      "Not that nice of a guy"? The rougher edges of worker advocacy are never pretty, and I'm not saying you should support all Rogers tactics. But middle class distaste for hardball tactics has been one of the greatest anti-worker weapons in the history of the movement. And one man's "agitation" is another man's stirring speech.

      Do Deval's supporters really want to publicly call out the SEIU?

      • Agreed

        I think this path of attacking Deval is misguided and misleading, but I think the campaign to get Coca-Cola off campuses (heck, I'd be happy if Brandeis even opened the campus up to Coke competitors - it's currently a Coke monopoly zone) is important, and encouraging the company to carry out a real investigation are very worthy goals.

        Do Deval's supporters really want to publicly call out the SEIU?

        I hope not. Just because the New York local endorsed Reilly and has also worked with Killer Coke, there's no reason to attack one of the most respected and imporant unions in the country over this. I think attacking the claims of the flyers and looking at the legality of them are the best routes to take, not attacking unions or other candidates.

    • Occam's Razor?

      Have you heard of Occam's Razor?

      From WikiPedia: "Occam's razor states that the explanation of any phenomenon should make as few assumptions as possible, eliminating, or "shaving off", those that make no difference in the observable predictions of the explanatory hypothesis or theory...

      Furthermore, when multiple competing theories have equal predictive powers, the principle recommends selecting those that introduce the fewest assumptions and postulate the fewest hypothetical entities."

      Perhaps SEIU 1199 knows full well the evil behind Coca Cola, and because of this knowledge, they voted both to boycott Coke AND endorse someone other than Deval Patrick. Less convoluted?

  4. Wow! Our own beat reporter!

    Great post, Bob. Thanks for taking the time to do this.

    Also, great additional commentary from "JimS" -- I agree that we should continue to follow the trail wherever it leads. I say "we" as I sit here as a consumer of the great work that you guys are doing.

    fwiw, to say that Patrick "got $2.1 million for a no-show consulting job in 2005" is completely bogus. Deval was actively involved in the Columbia investigation, as I remember from things he's said along the campaign trail.

    And, I'm not partisan of Coke (in fact, I never use their products, not to make a political statement but because I think they're junk), BUT one of the things that Deval proved, in this particular case, was that the atrocities committed in Columbia were not the result of anything Coke did but were the outcome of a turf war being fought between two unions. But this would be "an inconvenient truth" to Mr. Rogers since he would have to find another excuse to bash the company.

    • Fuzzy $2.1M

      I think the $2.1M's characterization is not clear.  I've seen it reported severance and as a consulting arrangement.  Atlanta Biz Journal says it was paid in 3 installments in 2004; the quote above says it was paid in 2005. 

      You say he was active in 2005.  All reports indicate Mr. Patrick's resignation was effective 12/31/04.

      The allegations against Coke were primarily in respect to murder that occurred inside a bottling facility and a key 'assumption' was/is that Coke or its affiliated bottler was complicit in allowing the gunmen into their facility.

      • I don't know the details

        And sorry for the lack of cites, but I'm only repeating what I remember from hearing Deval answer questions at various meet-and-greets I've been to. This was a frequent topic of questioning when he first started campaigning. Then, most people were satisfied with his answers and the topic was forgotten. Till now.

        I remember him saying that he was retained as a consultant after his resignation was effective because of two items he was asked to work on: hiring his replacement and completing the investigation that Coke (under a new CEO) had done an about-face on and decided to do after all.

        I seem to remember someone asking him late in 2005 if it wasn't a conflict for him to be campaigning while working for Coke, and his answer was, "That's done." I think the questioner meant a time conflict, not a conflict of interest, but in any case, I believe he was on the payroll as a consultant for at least part of 2005.

        Again, please keep in mind that I'm repeating what I remember of conversations that happened several months ago, and I may not have it right. And, of course, he could have gotten both a severance package and a consulting gig. But what does all of this have to do with his qualifications to be Governor? I haven't heard any accusations of wrongdoing in all of this. He left Coke under less-than-friendly conditions and they kept him around for quite a while after he resigned. I doubt they felt they were throwing their money away. I'm sure he earned it. So what's the beef?

        And, Gary, you've not been paying attention. The whole point of Deval's investigation was to prove that Coke was not complicit. As a result, the labor unions in Columbia are holding Coke up as an example of how all corporations should deal with unions. Again, I'm speaking from memory, but maybe one of our brilliant googlers can find the hard evidence of this.

        • Rapt attention

          And, Gary, you've not been paying attention. The whole point of Deval's investigation was to prove that Coke was not complicit.

          Actually, there was no investigation.  That's the point, and the presumed reason for the resignation.  Mr. Patrick promised an investigation and the CEO vetoed his decision.  I've insinuated nothing to the contrary.  Jest the facts.

    • Yeah, sorry for lack of real reporting

      In all sincerity, I'm sorry that all I could do here was present one side of the story. I wanted to just give our readers a look at what KillerCoke.org is. A better report would have included the other side of the story. But I didn't really have time, our wonderful community is able to fill in a lot of the other side of the story anyway (see above), and  I figured this was better than nothing.

      • Sorry, I have to rule your apology out of order

        No need to play journalist here. You're doing your part to provide a piece of the puzzle. I think your reporting was very even-handed -- one might even say "fair and balanced" since you presented Mr. Rogers's point of view and did not overly editorialize. We can all draw our own conclusions.

        The compete story will emerge out of our collective efforts. Your piece was a hugely important component, and you don't need to discount it because it's only part of the picture.

        Speaking of pictures, though, in future could you resize your pix to be no more than 400 pixels wide? The one at the top of this post screws up my margins. No big deal, but that would be my request. Thanks for listening.

  5. CCI history

    Please do not take CCI's claims about how Ray has helped unions at face value. I know of a number of local unions that felt they were ripped off after paying high consulting fees for no results in various "corporate campaigns".

  6. Good Job Bob

    why didn't you make the guy out to be a nut job?

    eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
    • I don't think he is a nut job

      He raises important points that should be discussed (along with any conflicts of interest he may have). People like Howie Carr and Bill O'Reilly who dismiss people they don't like as "nutjobs" do a disservice to us all. Patrick got a hell of a lot of money from Coke and will get more in the future from his pension, and has worked in high positions for a variety of companies that have arguably behaved badly. A positive interpretation is that Patrick worked for constructive change while at those firms and has business experience that will serve us well if he is elected -- and particularly well if he runs against Healey for the big prize. A negative interpretation is that he enabled bad behavior and is not being forthcoming about his activities. More generally, the argument that anyone who has worked for a major corporation should be ineligible for high public office is worthy of discussion -- the interests of corporations are often not the same as the interests of the general public. I have my own personal view on all of these issues, but at the moment it is the discussion, I think, that is most worthwhile. Finally, I am interested in how Patrick and his campaign respond to these criticisms.

      • great job bob

        loved the interview, melvin, and your follow-up remarks.  hope for more original BDC reporting on BMG...

        can we get a side-by-side photo comparison of melvin to mr. bigglesworth? 

  7. A heads-up for Mr. Rogers re campaign finance:

    he's quite wrong if he thinks he's exempt from campaign finance scrutiny because he's not supporting any particular candidate.  "Express advocacy" includes both trying to elect a particular candidate and trying to defeat a particular candidateOCPF materials are very clear on this point.  It appears that Killer Coke's anti-Patrick campaign was indeed funded directly by CCI, Mr. Rogers's for-profit corporation, which sure looks illegal if the campaign is deemed by OCPF to constitute "express advocacy."  (To quote the OCPF bulletin linked above, "business corporations ... may not pay for communications supporting or opposing candidates or political parties." (emphasis mine))  And, as I've already argued, it does look a lot like "express advocacy."

    • But what is the line?

      Is it handing out flyers in Massachusetts, protesting at places where Patrick is speaking in Massachusetts, putting up an internet site that can be read in Massachusetts. ...

      • He's probably already crossed it

        by spending his corporation's money on printing up his fliers.  Of course, if he never distributed them, then he couldn't be said to have engaged in advocacy.  But once he starts distributing them, seems to me he's in for a penny and in for a pound.

        Obviously, he can show up and protest all he wants, and since the whole internet thing remains nebulous as far as campaign finance regulation is concerned, I doubt OCPF would go after him simply because of internet activity.  But, again, spending corporate money on printing up fliers that expressly advocate against the election of Deval Patrick, and then distributing those fliers to Mass. voters (possibly spending more corporate money in the process), strikes me as legally risky activity.

        • Yeah

          My reading (albeit a non-lawyer one) is that once you spend the cash on anything, if it comes from this Killer Coke group which is part of his for-profit, it becomes an issue.

          As I see it, for instance, I can hold a fundraiser or organizing meeting for a candidate at my office (studio, whatever) which is part of my business, but if I use my business account to buy the cheese and wine, there's a host of trouble.

          (By the way, is that correct? Just in case I decide to do something like that...)

          • You should call OCPF

            before using your business facilities to do anything, because the rules governing in-kind contributions are complicated.  Call 617-727-8352 and tell them you'd like to speak to someone on the legal staff.  They're very helpful.

        • Oh

          and I assume if he's spending for-profit money on his travel and hotel expenses, does that count?

          • Assuming

            that those expenses are directly related to a campaign of express advocacy to defeat a particular candidate, I'd think they'd count too.  But I'm not really sure what the limits are.

  8. i loved this Globlog headline

    Killer Coke Man Has a Cat

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