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The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

October 1, 2013 at 11:08 AM

No on 522 campaign shatters state fundraising record for ballot measures

Foes of Initiative 522 – the ballot measure seeking to require labels on genetically engineered foods — still have more than a month to go before they’ll know whether their anti-labeling arguments will prevail at the ballot box.

But already, they’ve won top honors in at least one Washington election category: Raising money against a statewide initiative.

As of late Monday, the No on 522 Committee’s funding totals surged to $17.2 million, according to the latest campaign finance reports filed with the state’s Public Disclosure Commission.

The new total has shattered the state record for most money raised in opposing a statewide ballot measure, PDC figures show. The previous record was set in 2011 by opponents of the liquor sales privatization Initiative 1183.

The more than $20 million raised by the 2011 campaign supporting the measure to privatize liquor sales, funded largely by Costco and other retailers, still tops the PDC’s list for total money raised by any statewide initiative campaign (for or against).

Meantime, the Yes on I-522 Committee received another $500,000 donation from Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, the latest reports show.  That brings the pro-labeling side’s funding totals to $4.8 million.

When combining totals for both campaigns, the $21.9 million in contributions raised so far in the I-522 race has surged into second place all-time in Washington for collective money raised in a ballot measure campaign.

Initiative 522 would require food producers to disclose on the front of food packages whether some foods were produced using genetically engineered ingredients.

Largely bankrolled by five out-of-state corporations and a trade group, the No campaign’s fundraising totals jumped this week behind a single $5 million contribution from the Grocery Manufacturers Association.

The GMA, a Washington, D.C.-based trade group for the food industry, is now the single biggest contributor to the No campaign, collectively donating $7.2 million to date.  Biochemical companies Monsanto and Dupont Pioneer also have donated $4.8 million and $3.2 million respectively, records show.

Dr. Bronner’s, the California-based soap company, is the pro-labeling campaign’s largest donor, in all giving about $2 million to the Yes camp so far.

Here’s a look at how I-522 fundraising stacks up all-time:

Most money raised opposing a statewide ballot measure

1. $17,168,234: Initiative 522 on labeling genetically engineered foods, 2013*

2. $12,351,656: Initiative 1183 on privatizing liquor sales, 2011

3. $11,567,117: Referendum 67 on insurance reform, 2007

4. $6,612,582: Initiative 892 on expanding nontribal gambling, 2004

5. $6,465,664: Initiative 330 on health-care liability reform, 2005

 

Most money raised in a statewide ballot-measure campaign by both sides

1. $32,466,982: Initiative 1183 on privatizing liquor sales, 2011

2. $21,855,003: Initiative 522 on labeling genetically engineered foods, 2013*

3. $17,759,849: Referendum 74 on same- sex marriage, 2012

4. $16,469,457: Initiative 1107 on ending sales tax on candy and soda, 2010

5. $15,978,861: Initiative 330 on health-care liability reform, 2005

*Through Sept. 30, 2013

Public Disclosure Commission

Comments | More in 2014 elections | Topics: campaign fundraising, Initiative 522

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