I-522 supporters say opponents trying to steal the election

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Opponents of a statewide food labeling initiative got a major victory in court on Wednesday when a judge refused to put restraints on their multimillion dollar campaign.

Supporters of I-522 want Washington residents to know what's in the food they eat, and they're unhappy with the amount of money being poured into television ads from their opponents.

"We're trying to stop the flow of illegal money," said Knoll Lowney, an attorney for Moms for Labeling.

I-522 supporters are going to court so voters know which companies are financing the opposition.

"It's important that people take a stand. These corporations are big and they have a lot of money and power," said Karen Andonian of Moms for Labeling.

Moms for Labeling has the Washington's Attorney General on its side in seeking penalties for the main opponent of I-522, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, for not revealing its major companies.

"Truly fair elections demand all sides follow the rules by disclosing who their donors are," said Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

The grocery group recently said Pepsi, Coco Cola and Nestle had given $1 million each for the expensive television ad campaign, but they're not yet listed alongside Dupont and Monsanto in the small print.

Wednesday's court action has nothing to do with the merits of the initiative, which would require foods with genetically modified organisms to be labeled as such.

The court fight is over the fairness of not revealing who's paying for the $7 million ad campaign. It appears the expensive ads have worked. A month ago "yes on I-522" was leading by 40 points, but that lead is now down to just four points, according to a recent Elway poll.

"There's a good argument that GMA and the 522 campaign, the "no on 522,"are on the verge of stealing this election," Lowney said.

The "no on 522" side says they're not hiding anything and the lawsuit asks for too much at this late date.

"In effect, (it's a) 'gee we screwed up' kind of disclaimer in the middle of a campaign. Voting has begun," said attorney Michelle Radosevich.

In the end, the judge agreed with the "no on 522" people and refused to grant a temporary restraining order, which allows the campaign to go full steam ahead.