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Politics Northwest

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

Topic: Initiative 522

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November 5, 2013 at 7:17 AM

Voters rejecting initiative to label genetically engineered food

Sen. Maralyn Chase shows the first election results of I-522 to Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap CEO David Bronner CQ during the Yes on I-522 campaign party in Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood. “It does not look good for us,” said Chase. “But we’ve won the hearts and minds of the people. We’re not done.” (Photo…


Comments | More in 2014 elections | Topics: GMO, Initiative 522

November 5, 2013 at 7:00 AM

As Election Day arrives, ballots coming in slowly

Washington’s 2013 election has drawn national media attention — and record-setting initiative spending. But voters? They’re not particularly tuned in, elections officials say.

With vote counting beginning today in the all-mail election, Secretary of State Kim Wyman’s office projects 51 percent turnout statewide.

That’s an average turnout for an off-year election, “and we don’t see anything that would have it depart from that,” said David Ammons, spokesman for Wyman’s office. This year’s ballot is “not utterly boring, or scintillating,” he said.

The big-ticket item for political spending is Initiative 522, which would require labeling of genetically engineered foods. Foes of that measure set a state record by raising more than $22 million to defeat it, while the Yes on 522 committee raised about $8 million. Virtually all that cash flowed from outside the state. Voters also are deciding the fate of Initiative 517, which would make it easier to place future initiatives on the ballot.

Higher turnout is expected in Seattle, where voters will decide whether to return Mayor Mike McGinn to a second term or replace him with state Sen. Ed Murray. That race has set fundraising records, too, with more than $2.6 million pulled in by the campaigns and independent expenditure groups.


Comments | More in 2014 elections | Topics: 2013 elections, 2013 Seattle mayoral race, Initiative 522

October 28, 2013 at 2:34 PM

No on 522 breaks fundraising record for Washington initiative campaigns

First, it smashed the record for fundraising by a campaign opposing a statewide ballot measure.

Now, No on 522 holds the title for most money raised by any initiative campaign in Washington state history, period.

Bankrolled by out-of-state biochemical corporations and food industry heavyweights, the campaign trying to defeat GMO labeling Initiative 522 on Saturday broke the $21 million mark in total contributions, the latest campaign reports to Washington’s Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) show.

In the process, the No camp surpassed Washington’s previous high mark of money raised by any initiative campaign.  The old record — set in 2011 by Costco-backed supporters of the liquor-privatizing Initiative 1183 — was $20.1 million.

The No on 522 campaign reached record ground fueled by last week’s contributions of $3.8 million from the food-industry PAC the Grocery Manufacturers Association, and $460,000 from biochemical giant Dupont Pioneer.

With $11 million in cash contributions so far, the GMA remains the No campaign’s top donor.  The food-industry group — financed by Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, General Mills, NestleUSA and Conagra Foods among others — only revealed its own funders this month after Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson sued it for campaign disclosure violations.

Other top donors to the No campaign include Monsanto ($4.8 million), DuPont Pioneer ($3.9 million), Bayer Cropscience and Dow Agrosciences ($592,000 each).


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October 21, 2013 at 11:57 AM

Elway Poll: Support for GMO-labeling I-522 clings to lead, but momentum has shifted

Initiative 522 – the statewide ballot measure to require labeling of genetically engineered foods –  is clinging to a slight lead heading into the final two weeks before Election Day.

But momentum has clearly shifted against the measure, thanks to a barrage of opposition advertisements over the last month.

Or so says Seattle pollster Stuart Elway, whose latest poll on the Washington initiative has I-522 winning 46 to 42 percent, with still 12 percent of voters undecided.

“If you were calling it today, you’d say it’s still going to pass,” Elway said Monday. “But the momentum shift — how’s that going to play out?  And, it’s still within the margin of error.”

I-522’s four-point advantage falls within the poll’s margin of error of 5 percent, meaning the race is too close to call.

Campaign officials on either side of the measure touted Elway’s latest polling.


Comments | More in 2014 elections | Topics: Initiative 522, The Elway Poll

October 18, 2013 at 8:14 AM

Food industry group agrees to disclose anti-food-labeling donors

Washington state’s attorney general says a food industry group has agreed to disclose who contributed to an effort to oppose a food labeling initiative. Attorney General Bob Ferguson said Friday the agreement avoids the need to seek court intervention. Earlier this week, Ferguson filed a lawsuit against the Grocery Manufacturers Association, saying the group violated…


Comments | More in 2014 elections | Topics: genetic engineering, Grocery Manufacturers Association, Initiative 522

October 16, 2013 at 2:21 PM

Attorney General sues grocery association, alleging campaign-finance violations

Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit today against the Grocery Manufacturers Association, alleging the group illegally collected and spent more than $7 million to oppose Initiative 522, the measure requiring labeling of genetically modified foods.

Ferguson’s lawsuit, filed in Thurston County Superior Court, said the Washington D.C.-based trade association solicited big money from its members specifically for the anti-GMO-labeling campaign, yet illegally concealed the identity of those donors from the public by failing to register and file reports as a political committee.

“In our view it’s a clear violation. It’s an important violation,” Ferguson said at a news conference in Seattle.

Ferguson said unless the GMA immediately discloses its donors, his office will ask a judge for a temporary restraining order to force the grocery association to register as a political committee and reveal its donors so that voters will have the information as they cast their ballots for or against I-522. He added the state will seek civil penalties and attorney’s fees from the group.


Comments | More in 2014 elections, Politics Northwest | Topics: Attorney General Bob Ferguson, campaign finance, GMO labeling

October 4, 2013 at 6:22 PM

Judge tosses lawsuit, fines plaintiffs who accused No on I-522 campaign of violations

A Thurston County judge today dismissed a lawsuit filed against the No on I-522 campaign and the Grocery Manufacturers Association, and slapped the plaintiffs who’d brought the case with a fine.

Initiative 522, which is on the November ballot, would require the labeling of foods with genetically engineered ingredients. Opponents of the measure have raised more than $17.2 million, the most ever raised to defeat an initiative in the state.

Last month, a group of I-522 supporters called Moms for Labeling, filed a lawsuit alleging the initiative opponents were illegally failing to disclose who was funding the ‘No’ campaign. The lawsuit said the grocery association was acting as a political committee to solicit and “launder” money from big-business interests whose identities were being illegally concealed from voters.

But that lawsuit was tossed today by Thurston County Superior Court Judge Christopher Wickham, who ruled the lawsuit was filed prematurely without abiding by a mandatory 45-day waiting period for such claims.

The judge also fined the plaintiffs $10,000 and ordered them to pay the defendants’ attorneys fees under an anti-SLAPP law originally meant to shield citizens from harassing corporate lawsuits.


Comments | More in 2014 elections | Topics: GMO labeling, Initiative 522

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…


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

September 16, 2013 at 11:04 AM

First TV ads aired in GMO initiative battle

The first television ads have aired in the battle over a statewide initiative that would mandate the labeling of genetically engineered foods. Opponents and supporters of Initiative 522 rolled out TV spots Monday morning in campaigns that are expected to cost millions of dollars. The Yes on 522 campaign has raised $3.4 million with the largest donation…


| More in 2014 elections | Topics: genetically engineered food, GMO, Initiative 522

September 10, 2013 at 10:23 AM

Elway Poll: Voters support labeling genetically-modified food, protecting signature gatherers

A new Elway Poll indicates strong support for two initiatives to the Legislature on the November ballot that would aid initiative signature gatherers, and require labeling of genetically-engineered food. The poll of 406 registered voters, which has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points, found that 58 percent of the people surveyed supported…


Comments | More in Politics Northwest | Topics: Elway Poll, genetically-modified food, Initiative 517

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