You folks on all the islands wondered about all those TV ads against the “Maui Farming Ban”. Who the heck was this group, “Citizens Against the Maui Farming Ban”? And where are they getting the money to paper over our TV stations with their ads?
Not to mention why would 9,000 people sign an initiative to ban farming? (Obviously the PAC name is as misleading as its ads)
Campaign disclosure is out and, as suspected, Monsanto and Dow are the funders of “Citizens”. And wow baby! Did they fund it! $7,896,163 worth!
As of the filing date, Monsanto and Dow had spent a total of $6,335,083.
Interestingly some of that money was paid to Support Agriculture Coalition Committee of Aiea for “Professional Services”. We were unable to find any information on this company nor any registration with the Hawaii Department of Consumer Affairs.
After denying (by implication) that he was doing PR for Monsanto and Dow, we find out that Tom Blackburn-Rodriquez & Associates got a big chunk of change from them…over $16,000. Another active pro-GMO facebook poster and failed state House candidate, Christy Gusman got $3,483. This would seem to reinforce the theory that Monsanto and Dow are paying people to comment on social media.
Contrast this to the amount of money that the YES on the GMO Initiative people raised. “Maui Citizen’s Initiative for a Temporary Moratorium on GMO Crop Cultivation” got $52,422 this reporting period all but one from regular residents of Hawaii. $5,000 was donated by an individual in Colorado. They spent $55,342 on their mailer and radio ads.
We knew Citizens United was going to drown out voters’ voices with unlimited corporate cash but this seems a little excessive. The ratio of Monsanto cash to Hawai’i voters’ cash is 150 to 1.
Measures which could prevent campaign PAC surprises like this
Add another filing deadline a week prior to absentee ballots going out. The Monsanto-Dow PAC was allowed to operate for two months (starting at the beginning of September) without disclosing who was funding nor how much was being spent.
Untroduce transparency by requiring that the top 3 donors to the PAC be disclosed on any ad.