The Maui Fair, a family tradition since 1916, became an object of controversy this week when a PAC trying to derail the GMO Moratorium citizens initiative broke its booth and parade contract and created a political display. Those supporting the voter initiative which will be on the ballot November 4th, played by the rules and had stripped their booth and float of any politicking.
The PAC which is misleadingly called “Citizens Against the Maui County Farming Ban” and headed by the manager of a Dow subsidiary has not filed its campaign finance disclosures despite having bought over $500,000 of TV advertising in September. Their first buy was Sept 2nd. And yet the September disclosure deadline came and went without any contribution or expense filing.
Given the rate at which they’re spending money, it looks like they’ve been financed with close to $2,000,000. Money that could not possibly have been raised by “Citizens” and most likely comes from the two GMO-Chemical corporations operating in Maui County – Monsanto and Dow.
As one sponsor of the fair said in a letter to the Maui Fair Alliance,
We are disappointed and dismayed that a booth has been set-up by an exhibitor in The Fairgrounds with the sole-purpose of supporting one side of an upcoming and decisive political referendum. We don’t believe that this kind of political activism has a place at The Fair and seems to be in direct conflict with The Fair’s Exhibitor rules, specifically B-7.
We would request that this exhibitor not be allowed to blatantly violate the non-political rules that make for a community-inclusive event, and remove all political paraphernalia from their booth before the start of Maui County’s 92nd Annual Fair.
According to MauiWatch when the political display was brought to Fair head, Avery Chumbley’s attention, he told the Yes on the GMO Moratorium faction that since the No PAC was displaying political messages that he would allow them to also display political messages. Here’s the story from a Moms on a Mission organizer:
To be accepted into the fair you have to sign papers agreeing to rules- one of which is no political activity. No political activity in the booth or in the PARADE. At the mandatory parade meeting it was emphasized NO POLITICS. You do, they will stop the parade and escort you OUT.
We planned to respect the policy and abide by rules agreed upon by all. Citizens against Maui county people (brought to us by Mycogen and Monsanto) purchased booth space, decorated it in vote no stuff.
It was reported to fair officials yesterday who said that this should not be happening and they would “take care of it”. 2pm today [Shaka Movement leader] Bruce gets a call saying that the fair people couldn’t ask the citizens against Maui people to take down their signs, since they were already set up, so politics are now suddenly ok this year.
I jumped in my car and ran up there with every vote yes thing I had. Upon arrival I see a huge “no” float, with workers bused in (those that we spoke to after the parade had no idea why they were there, most could not understand the election, let alone English).
In one hour we transformed the Shaka float into vote yes messages. What the “no” people had planned for weeks with unlimited funds, we matched in one hour. A good 30 people came, it was AWESOME.
It does appear that the Citizens Against PAC deceived the Fair officials and flouted the rules. And that the Maui Fair Alliance was caught in a bind and attempted to mitigate the damage caused by this violation of the rules. We reached out to Avery Chumbley for comment:
The Maui Fair has been in the past and will be in the future non-political.
All participants in the parade complete an application on which they acknowledge that their float / marchers will be non-political. In addition all persons / groups who apply for booths complete an application on which they acknowledge that their booth will be non-political. The Maui Fair Alliance applies the same review criteria to each organizations application in an even handed manner.
The Maui Fair relies on each applicant to accurately complete the application and then to do that which he said he would do in participating in the parade and /or fair booth.
I made a mistake this year in not closely policing the parade participants and in not closely policing those who applied for and received a booth at this year’s 92nd Maui Fair. For those mistakes I am deeply sorry. I wish to apologize to those who attend the Maui Fair for being subjected to political messages. I will take the necessary steps to prevent a repeat of the mistakes in future fairs.
Hmmmm…this appears to be the first time that an organization buying a booth at the Maui Fair needed “policing” so one can see how organizers might have been caught offguard.