We wrote about this in today's Fizz, but now that the Grocery Manufacturers Association has actually registered its anti-GMO-labeling political committee with the state, as AG Bob Ferguson's complaint forced them to do today, listing the actual names of the donors and the amounts they've all donated against I-522—PepsiCo in for $1.6 million, for example—we're making Ferguson today's big winner.

Using his subpoena power, something that wasn't available to the activists who filed the original complaint against the Grocery Manufacturers—Ferguson uncovered strong evidence that the GMA executed an intentional scheme to sidestep Washington state election law that requires groups raising money for a specific political campaign to reveal the donors.

Here's the damning passage from Ferguson's complaint (bolds ours): 

In a February 18, 2013 memorandum to the GMA Board, GMA’s Chief Executive Officer Pamela G. Bailey proposed a cost estimate for the multi-pronged approach to labeling issues, which included the cost to “fight Washington State Ballot Measure” in 2013. CEO Bailey also included in her memorandum the establishment of a separate GMA fund that would “allow for greater planning for the funds to combat current threats and better shield individual companies from the attack that provide funding for specific efforts.” The fund would allow GMA to be identified as the source of funding for efforts that included defeating Initiative 522.

GMA named the fund the “Defense of Brand Strategic Account” (“Account”) and determined that it would be funded from an assessment to GMA members separate from their normal association dues. The Account would be segregated from the other GMA funds. GMA expressed its intent that GMA’s opposition to a mandatory labeling program would be paid for from the Account.

(If the GMA had simply been using money from it regular general fund from association dues, it wouldn't have had to register as a separate political committee and reveal its donors. Until Ferguson forced their hand, the GMA was surreptitiously funneling its anti-522 fundraising to the No on 522 campaign, which merely listed $7.2 million from the GMA without listing which GMA members had kicked in.)

Scary precedent: Without Ferguson's smoking gun, the judge may still have ruled against the activists—preventing the discovery phase that would have clearly proven the whistleblower claims.

Liberal attorney Knoll Lowney, who filed the initial complaint on behalf of "Moms for Labeling," a crew of activists supporting I-522, only had whistleblower testimony backing up the allegation that the GMA had a special anti-522 fund. Lowney could have eventually gotten the damning documents that Ferguson got  if the case had gone forward. However, it never got to that point because the judge dismissed the case on technical grounds.

It's a bit of a scary precedent, though, that Lowney didn't have the info that Ferguson did. Without Ferguson's smoking gun, the judge may still have ruled against the activists—preventing the discovery phase that would have clearly proven the whistleblower claims.

Once listed as $7.2 million from the GMA on the No on 522 report, today the GMA itself listed its donors. Here's the list and the amounts (top five donors bolded):

Pinnacle Foods Group LLC   $120,846

The J.M. Smucker Company  $241,091

Rich Products Corporation    $24,049

General Mills, Inc.                  $598,819

PepsiCo, Inc.                           $1,620,899

Bunge North America, inc.    $94,993

Bumble Bee Foods, LLC        $36,073

Bush Brothers & Company  $16, 233

Moody Dunbar, Inc.              $1,804

Dean Foods Company           $120,245

Kellogg Company                  $221,852

Nestlé USA, Inc.                   $1,052,743

ConAgra Foods                      $285,281

Bimbo Bakeries USA             $94,693

Welch Foods, Inc.                   $28,859

Knouse Foods Cooperative, Inc.  $14,429

Bruce Foods Corporation     $3,006

Abbott Nutrition                    $127,459

Campbell Soup Company     $265,140

Del Monte Foods Company  $86,576

Sunny Delight Beverages Company  $21,043

Shearer’s Foods, Inc.             $25,251

Mondelez Global LLC      $144,895

Land O’Lakes, inc.                  $99,803

The Coca-Cola Company      $1,047,332

The Hillshire Brands Company    $97,398

The Hershey Company        $248,305

Hormel Foods Corporation   $52,908

Clement Pappas & Company, Inc.   $21,043

McCormick & Company, Inc.    $102,208

Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc.         $55,313

FlowersFoods, Inc.     $141,288

Cargill, Inc.                 $98,601

The Clorox Company     $12,024

TOTAL                       $7,222,500





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