Pages tagged "PACs"
The GMO labeling fight is back in the news this week. If you remember, in 2016 The Grocery Manufacturers Association was ordered to pay $18 million for violating campaign-finance laws to conceal the identities of corporations that poured $11 million into defeating a 2013 food-labeling initiative in Washington.
Now the trade group representing manufacturers has asked the Washington Supreme Court to overturn the fine against the food industry for making anonymous donations.
A trade group representing manufacturers has asked the Washington Supreme Court to overturn a record fine against the food industry for making anonymous donations to defeat a GMO-labeling initiative in 2013.
In an amicus brief filed last week, the National Association of Manufacturers argues lower courts were insensitive to internet-fueled reprisals that businesses face.
By funneling campaign contributions through an umbrella organization, food-makers preserved their right to band together and take political stands, according to the manufacturers.
“Without anonymity, speakers face boycotts, harassment, and even threats of violence, all for engaging in activity at the heart of the First Amendment’s protection,” the amicus brief states.
The Supreme Court will hear arguments Oct. 22 in Olympia on whether the Grocery Manufacturers Association violated the state’s election law by not naming the companies that spent $11 million to defeat the initiative.
The association collected the money and reported itself as the donor. Under pressure from state regulators, the association disclosed shortly before the election that the money came from brand-name companies such as PepsiCo, Nestle USA, Coca-Cola, General Mills and ConAgra Foods. The initiative was narrowly defeated.
The court also will decide whether to uphold the largest-ever fine levied in the U.S. for a campaign finance violation. An appeals court reduced the fine to $6 million from $18 million, but it still far exceeds any other election-law penalty.
Attorney General Bob Ferguson is seeking to restore the $18 million fine. The grocery association intentionally tried to deceive voters, his office argues. The grocery association argues it thought it was complying with Washington law.
Corporate Ag Watch: Agrichemical Company Influence in Oregon – Part I
Pesticide maker and biotech crop developer Monsanto is based in Missouri, not Oregon, but they have invested a lot of money here – often through innocuous sounding front groups – to ensure their interests are represented in debates on the regulation of pesticides and genetically engineered crops.
According to publicly available state campaign finance reports, Monsanto has spent nearly $6.4 million on Oregon political campaigns over the past decade. Much of this money – $5.95 million – was spent in 2014 to oppose Ballot Measure 92. Measure 92 was a consumer right-to-know citizen initiative that would have required the labeling of genetically engineered food on store shelves. It ultimately lost by 837 votes out of more than 1.5 million cast.
The second biggest beneficiary of Monsanto political money in our state is the Oregon Farm Bureau Political Action Committee (PAC). The Oregon Farm Bureau PAC has received $133,500 from Monsanto over the past decade, often raised during an annual fundraising golf tournament that the Oregon Farm Bureau uses to raise money for its political activities. The tournament prominently sponsored by Monsanto for many years.
Other major recipients of Monsanto political funds in Oregon include the Oregonians for Food and Shelter PAC ($24,500) and FirstVote PAC ($48,500), which is directed by the staff of Oregonians for Food and Shelter. Oregonians for Food and Shelter is a pesticide advocacy group whose Board of Directors includes representatives of Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow AgroSciences, and DuPont, in addition to the Oregon Farm Bureau and a number of large timber companies.