business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Seattle Times reports that Moms for Labeling, a nonprofit group that is supporting a Washington State initiative that would require the labeling of foods containing genetically modified ingredients, is suing the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), "saying the industry group should be disclosing which member companies are giving money to fight the initiative ... The lawsuit says the industry association acted as a political committee to solicit and 'launder' money from others whose identity is 'illegally concealed'."

The Times writes that "for transparency purposes, Washington law requires that an organization register as a political committee if it raises money to support or oppose a particular ballot measure, said Lori Anderson, spokeswoman for the state’s Public Disclosure Commission ... Organizations are not required to register if they contribute money from a general fund — for example, money collected from member dues and used for a variety of purposes — as long as the organization’s primary purpose is not to influence elections. Once registered as a political committee, the organization must file regular reports showing who has contributed more than $25 and how the money is being spent."

According to the story, GMA has not yet commented on the suit, but "has contributed $2.2 million to the campaign opposing I-522. Other major contributors include Monsanto ($4.8 million) and DuPont Pioneer ($3.4 million)."
KC's View:
I suspect that in the courts, the decision will hinge on a technical definition of what a political committee is and exactly how GMA is collecting and disbursing funds.

My bet? GMA wins.

That said, I think that any organization that contributes $2.2 million to any campaign - for a person or position - ought to be required to disclose precisely where that money is coming from. This would help voters decide how to vote. It would help members decide whether their interests are being properly represented.

The bar, in fact, ought to be far lower than $2.2 million. I am so tired of the impact that money has had on our politics, on both sides of the aisle. Organizations are able to write enormous checks, both for candidates and outside groups, and nobody knows where the money is coming from. It is disgusting. And it'd be nice if somehow a line could be drawn that makes people and organizations accountable for the checks they write and the positions they take. Maybe, with luck, that line will get drawn in Washington State.