1. After Washington State AG Bob Ferguson filed a case in Thurston Superior Court against the Grocery Manufacturers Association on Wednesday, complaining that the group was breaking state campaign law by raising money to defeat the GMO labeling measure without disclosing the donors, the GMA has relented and now agreed to identify the donors.
The GMA says they will register a separate political committee with the state's Public Disclosure Commission and report the donors today.
The official anti-labeling campaign, No on 522, which is registered as a political committee with the PDC, is required to report its donors, but has simply been listing its top donor, the GMA (along with other big donors such as Monsanto and Dow), without listing who's giving to the GMA. According to state election laws, that'd be kosher if the GMA itself, wasn't explicitly raising money from its members to oppose I-522 and was just tapping its existing general fund.
The pro-I-522 camp has been complaining for months that the GMA, which has put $7 million into the No on 522 campaign, had been funneling tmoney to No on 522 without disclosing who's writing those checks.
The pro-I-522 camp has been complaining for months that the GMA, which has put $7 million into the No on 522 campaign, had been soliticing that money from GMA members and funneling the money to No on 522 without disclosing who's writing those checks.
Back in August, a PubliCola "Isn't It Weird That" item first noted that the GMA had suspiciously taken its membership list off-line. Then in early September, supporters of the Yes on 522 campaign filed a lawsuit saying the GMA had to register as a political committee and reveal its donors.
The judge rejected the case earlier this month on a technicality without ruling on the merits, saying only the AG had the standing to bring the case forward.
That's when Ferguson stepped in.
In a statement this morning, Ferguson said, “The people of Washington demand transparency in elections. I’m pleased the GMA board recognized their responsibility to disclose the names of companies who contributed to opposing Initiative 522, and the amount of their contributions.”
In a similar campaign last year in California for GMO labeling (I-37), 42 GMA members, including Cargill, 3M, and Pepsi, had individually kicked in millions (overall, the No side spent more than $40 million beating back a potentially landmark labeling effort). And curiously, in the latest precedent-setting battle, no GMA members appeared to have contributed to stop labeling this year in Washington state.
The Everett Herald reports this morning that the top donors to the "No" campaign include Nestle, Coca-Cola, Cargill, and ConAgra Foods.
2. Here's a footnote to the news that Washington state's entire GOP delegation in the U.S. house broke ranks with the original Republican line and supported Wednesday's deal to end the government shutdown:
There was only one other state with bipartisan representation in which all members of their delegation voted for the bill—West Virginia. Setting aside those states with only one member, Arkansas was the only House Delegation with all Republicans that voted for the deal. Several state delegations with all Democrats voted for the bill (Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire).