Goldy details the AG’s complaint against the Grocery Manufacturers Association for their anti-I-522 campaign financing.
According to the complaint, the GMA funded its anti-522 efforts through voluntary assessments on its members (major food companies) separate from their normal association dues. Invoices were sent to GMA members in March and August of 2013, with the goal of raising $10 million to oppose I-522. As of the No on I-522’s most recent disclosure report, the GMA had contributed $7,222,500.
Of course, the GMA and its members are free to spend as much as they want opposing I-522; the issue here is their failure to disclose the source of the money. GMA members—familiar brands like Pepsi, Kraft, Coca-Cola, General Mills, and Kellogg’s—faced a ton of bad publicity for the millions they contributed to defeat the similar Prop 37 in California last year. The complaint outlines what appears to be a deliberate effort to shield these companies from similar publicity, in direct violation of Washington’s voter-approved public disclosure laws. In addition to penalties and legal fees, the AG is seeking to force the GMA to register as a political action committee and reveal its donors.
It’s a process story rather than a policy story, and I don’t think people really vote based on that (for specific candidates they do, I’m not convinced they do for ballot initiatives). Still, perhaps this feeds the narrative more than usual. The Frankenfood industry doesn’t want you to know who is spending money in the initiative process just like it doesn’t want you to know what you’re eating. I don’t know.