Morning Fizz: Troubled by the Revelations
Caffeinated News & Gossip featuring voter turnout, additional money, and spying.
1. Ballot returns are lagging somewhat behind county election officials' predictions in both Seattle and in King County as a whole, a trend King County Elections spokeswoman Kim van Eckstrom attributes to a long ballot that includes quite a few confusingly worded ballot measures that "voters may want to read up on."
(There are the five "advisory" measures, for example, resulting from a provision mandated by Tim Eyman's otherwise now-unconstitutional and defunct two-thirds-to-raise taxes-rule, that allows people, in a taxpayer funded poll, to offer their opinion about taxes. Hmmm. Editorializing here: Check "Maintain," especially on Advisory Vote No. 6—a "tax increase" that closed a $400,000 tax loophole for telecommunications companies to help balance the budget and pay for schools.)
So far, according to the county elections web site, just nine percent of registered voters in Seattle have returned their ballots with less than a week to go. Overall, van Eckstrom says, the county expects turnout of around 56 percent in Seattle, and 55 percent in King County as a whole. She says to check back in Monday to see if turnout is actually falling short.
2. Two weeks ago, state Attorney General Bob Ferguson forced the Grocery Manufacturers Association— which had been secretly funneling members' donations to the anti-GMO labeling campaign—to reveal the original source of the money.
It was supposedly $7.2 million worth. However, after Ferguson forced them to account for all the money, it turned out the GMA had actually collected more than $11 million.
Cola intern Shirley Qiu went through the list of GMA donors and found the extra four million, which didn't so much come from new companies, but revealed companies giving more than the GMA had initially reported to the Public Disclosure Commission last week.
Here's a revised list of the top donors to the GMA's No on I-522 committee, the biggest source of cash to the No on I-522 campaign overall. The companies in bold are the ones who actually gave more than the GMA first reported. (I-522, of course, is the pro-GMO labeling measure.)
Abbott Nutrition: $127,459.00
Bunge North America: $94,933.00
Campbell Soup: $265,140.00
Cargill Inc: $98,601.00
ConAgra Foods: $828,251.28Dean Foods Company: $120,245.00
Del Monte Foods Company: $125,677.48
FlowersFoods Inc: $141,288.00
General Mills, Inc: $598,819.00
Kellogg Company: $221,852.00
Land O’Lakes Inc: $99,803.00McCormick & Company: $102,208.00
Mondelez International: $144,895.00
Nestle USA: $1,052,743.00
Pinnacle Foods Group LLC: $120,846.00
Coca-Cola Company: $1,047,332.00
The Hershey Company: $360,450.26
The Hillshire Brands Company: $282,774.59
The J.M. Smucker Company: $349,977.80
By the way: A relatively small amount, $350,000, has come in to the GMA since Ferguson forced full transparency, and the big majority of that came from ConAgra Foods, already outed as a big donor.
The GMA's anti-I-522 committee is quickly turning around and donating its money to the official No on I-522 campaign (where they had initially been surreptitiously funneling their members' money).
The formal No on I-522 campaign has raised a record-breaking $22 million including, in addition to the recent GMA money, a $540,000 contribution from Monsanto on Monday.
3. Some more Fizz editorializing: It's official, freshman U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA, 1) is now PubliCola's favorite member of the Washington state delegation.
Rep. DelBene, Washington state's only member of the house judiciary committee (nice score, freshman), has led the charge against NSA spying and is an original co-sponsor of the new bipartisan bill to rein in surveillance. (The bill's main sponsor is Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-WI, the now-contrite original sponsor of the Bush-era PATRIOT Act).
We've reported on DelBene's dogged response to this year's dystopian revelations before—like when she outplayed U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder back in June, presciently taking advantage of his testimony in front of the judiciary committee about the AP spying scandal (just the tip of the iceberg at the time, though, most didn't realize it), cornering him about snooping on civilians.
The new bill would, among other things, end bulk collection of Americans' communication data and require the AG to disclose all the legal interpretations that have green-lighted spying on U.S. civilians by the classified Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
Like the American public, I was outraged and deeply troubled by the revelations earlier this year of how far-reaching and invasive our government’s surveillance programs have become.
As additional details have come to light about these secret programs, I have joined with colleagues on both sides of the aisle, many of whom have supported and even drafted the original PATRIOT Act after 9/11, to scrutinize the legal authorities for these programs. This bill is the result of this effort, and now Congress must act to rein in the government’s surveillance programs and end the bulk collection of the communications records of millions of innocent Americans.