Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Just Look Behind the Curtain by Anna Minard - Seattle News - The Stranger, Seattle's Only Newspaper

Just Look Behind the Curtain by Anna Minard - Seattle News - The Stranger, Seattle's Only Newspaper:

Making matters worse, the GMA is an umbrella group that gave $7.2 million, but for a while it wasn't clear who the donors behind the curtain were. Washington State attorney general Bob Ferguson brought a lawsuit last week accusing the GMA of soliciting funds from their members specifically to block I-522 and then not reporting it. If true, that would break another state record—for the largest campaign finance violation of its kind. The GMA has since disclosed their donors, which include more than $1 million each from Pepsi, Coke, and NestlĂ©; half a million from General Mills; and about a quarter million each from Hershey, Campbell Soup, and ConAgra.
That kind of money will buy you a lot of eyes and ears. After a month of saturating the airwaves—and the computer screens and mobile devices—of Washington State residents, what had been about a 40-point lead for the yes side in an early Elway poll has dwindled into a statistical tie, according to another Elway poll released this week. That poll pegs it at 46–42 in favor, with 12 percent undecided and a 5 percent margin of error.
"We didn't pick this fight," says No on 522 spokeswoman Dana Bieber. She calls the initiative "inconsistent, incomplete, and inaccurate" and "an attack on our family farmers." She says big pesticide manufacturers support their campaign because they're just "supporting their customers," i.e., farmers.
(I'm not going into the politics, arguments, and science around GMO labeling here—we've written about it at length before. I'm just going to stick with the dough and the donors.)
While Bieber says "tens of thousands of farmers" are behind the No on 522 campaign, Larter says plenty of farmers support a yes vote, too, then goes a step further: "Our farmers have actually, as individuals, chosen to donate to 522," she notes, citing campaign contributors as well as a separate Political Action Committee called Farmers and Friends of Initiative 522. That PAC, she notes with a smile, is "fully transparent and [is] following the letter of the law."

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