Good lord, these fuckers have deep pockets! The Grocery Manufacturer's Association just dumped another $3,777,500 into the No on 522 campaign, on top of the $7.2 million they'd already donated. They've finally set up a PAC and disclosed all their donors (after the state Attorney General sued them into doing so). Coupled with an additional $460,000 from Dupont, the no camp's total now stands at $21.4 million. (I wrote about the two campaign's financial support in the paper last week.)
But now it appears that even after creating a PAC, the GMA's contributions may not be legal anyway.
The lawyer who sued on behalf of private citizens before Attorney General Bob Ferguson got around to it, Knoll Lowney, is pointing out that the GMA's contributions allegedly break a different campaign finance law than the ones we've been talking about so far. "Under Washington State law, the GMA PAC does not qualify to give a contribution to another political committee because it does not have the legally required support from Washington voters," he wrote in a letter to Ferguson, asking the AG to "take immediate action to stop the No on 522 Campaign from spending these illegal contributions." The law he's referring to states clearly that "a political committee may make a contribution to another political committee only when the contributing political committee has received contributions of ten dollars or more each from at least ten persons registered to vote in Washington state." The GMA's PAC has no Washington donors listed with the Public Disclosure Commission.
Lowney's suit on behalf of he group "Moms for Labeling" was thrown out under a statute usually meant to protect citizen activists; Moms for Labeling is appealing that decision. Ferguson went forward with a similar suit against the GMA soon after.
The rest of Lowney's letter to Ferguson is below the jump.
Attorney General Ferguson:
I am writing on behalf of my clients, the Yes on 522 Campaign and Moms for Labeling.
This is the defining moment of your term. As you know, the GMA just gave another $3.7 million in illegal contributions to the no on 522 Campaign, bringing its total illegal contributions to $11 million. If you do not take immediate action to stop the No on 522 Campaign from spending these illegal contributions, you will be the Attorney General that blesses the largest illegal spending in Washington State history.
We elected you to enforce the law and the judge refused to grant us a temporary restraining order primarily because your office appeared and argued against our standing to obtain such relief. Once again, the Court has confirmed that you are the only person who can stop out of state corporations from stealing this election.
You and your office have seen Moms for Labeling's supplemental brief supporting our motion for a temporary restraining order. You know that the GMA PAC has given $11 million dollars in illegal contributions to the No on 522 Campaign.
Under Washington State law, the GMA PAC does not qualify to give a contribution to another political committee because it does not have the legally required support from Washington voters. It cannot legally contribute to the No on 522 Campaign. The No on 522 Campaign could come up with no argument that its contributions comply with Washington law. It primarily argued that only you can enforce the law. While the GMA and No 522 Campaign can argue that this law is unconstitutional, you were elected to defend our law, and it clearly passes muster under existing Supreme Court precedent, including Buckley.
In addition, the GMA PAC did not disclose the donors of the $3.7 million it just transferred to the No on 522 Campaign, so this contribution was illegally concealed and therefore impermissible under Washinton [sic] law. By disclosing the contributors of only the $7.2 million that it had already given, the GMA waived its right to give further funds from this political committee. Moreover, by responding to your lawsuit by disclosing the source of $7.2 million in past contribution—purportedly as an agreement with you—and then contributing another $3.7 million without disclosure, the GMA is making a mockery of your office. Weren't your suit and your media tour designed to make it clear that you would not tolerate such secret and anonymous war chests?
If your office does nothing, you will be telling out of state corporations that the rule of law means nothing in Washington State, or that you are unwilling to enforce the law—which has the same effect.
In denying our motion for a TRO, the judge never questioned our legal argument that the GMA money was illegal under Washington law. Judge Wickham simply believes that you are the one that has to take action. While we initially applauded your decision to sue the GMA, your constituents will be disappointed indeed if your lawsuit ends up being a shield for the illegal campaigning of these out of state corporations.
We are hopeful that you will take action immediately. Based upon two times arguing over this matter before Judge Wickham, I believe he will grant the State immediate injunctive relief to stop this illegal activity.