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Friday Jolt: AG Ferguson Outs Secret Anti-GMO-Labeling Donors

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Genetic Engineering page, Millions Against Monsanto page and our Washington News page.

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 GAM 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.)

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.     


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