Poor Gary Hooser. He just can't accept the fact that Kauai voters rejected him. Instead, he's blaming it on the seed companies — and Hawaii News Now's Rick Daysog just lapped it right up.
Daysog, in yet another inaccurate, unbalanced hit piece on the seed industry, lets Hooser whimper about how “there's no question that the four GMO pesticide chemical companies on Kauai got together to beat me” — a totally bogus crybaby claim that led the station's “top story.”
Daysog apparently didn't know, or care, that Hooser spent more than any other County Council candidate in the history of Kauai elections, yet he still lost badly. Days obviously didn't bother to talk to any Kauai voters, or he would have known that Hooser was a victim of his own bad choices and hubris, not a seed company vendetta.
But Daysog needed some sort of drama — even though it was fake — to spice up his story on how much pro- and anti-GMO forces have been spending on campaign contributions and lobbying.
But although I sent Daysog an email advising him of the pitfalls of such an analysis, he stepped right into them. Because TV news is all about sensationalism, not accuracy or education.
Daysog used public records — campaign contributions and lobbying reports — to reach the conclusion that:
Since 2008, large seed companies and their employees in Hawaii spent more than half-a-million dollars in campaign contributions and lobbying. Meanwhile, anti-GMO groups spent $270 grand.
He apparently based the latter solely on campaign spending reports filed by two political action committees: Sustainable Action Fund for the Environment and Center for Food Safety.
But what Daysog fails to mention — even though I pointed to him — is that the anti-GMO groups are funneling tremendous amounts of undisclosed money into Hawaii politics. We've got groups like Nomi Carmona's Babes Against Biotech and Mark Sheehan's SHAKA raising and spending significant sums, with zero disclosure. Yet we know from social media and the 2016 campaign that they're heavily involved in politics.
And what about the Kuleana Coalition for Change, which was offering campaign donors anonymity? According to state records, it supposedly raised only $2,694 — but distributed none to candidates. Really?
Similarly, anti-GMO groups like Hawaii SEED, Hooser's HAPA and the Kohala Center support political activities, with little or disclosure. What's more, these so-called educational nonprofits are often two years behind in filing their tax reports, and they typically don't disclose where they get their money, or how they spend it. So we don't get any sort of meaningful real-time picture of who is spending what to influence Hawaii politics with an anti-GMO message.
We've also seen the mainland-based Pesticide Action Network involved in Hawaii politics, even hiring Jen Ruggles — now a Big Island Councilwoman — to work as a lobbyist on Kauai during the Bill 2491 campaign, while pretending she was a political novice, no less. Yet PAN's involvement is not disclosed as influencing Hawaii politics, nor are the activities of Earthjustice and the D.C. headquarters of Center for Food Safety.
Then you've got people like Lorin Pang and Hector Valenzuela who are using their state jobs to advance the anti-GMO campaign. And Hooser isn't registered as a lobbyist, even though he certainly seems to function like one and is now, according to Daysog, raising money for anti-GMO groups.
Daysog lets Hooser claim, unchallenged, that “The amount of money raised by the so-called anti-GMO forces is minimal compared to the money spent.”
But the antis get all sorts of free and sympathetic publicity from people like Daysog and publications like Civil Beat, which still treat these groups as grassroots community organzations, and not well-funded extensions of mainland organizations.
Could anything be more hypocritical than Hooser “complaining about the influence of pro-GMO groups in Hawaii government and business,” when his own campaign was funded heavily by anti-GMO forces and his HAPA groups exists primarily to influence government, right down to training candidates?
Hooser, still smarting over references to his jowls, has grown a beard to try and hide them. But he can't hide the truth of who he really is from the Kauai voters who denounced him. It's just too bad Daysog is so clueless.
Daysog also fails to note that the seed companies are spending money to protect their operations in the face of an aggressive international anti-GMO campaign. They're the most valuable sector of Hawaii agriculture, and their presence in the Islands has a positive effect on other farming operations, in terms of maintaining irrigation and other infrastructre, sub-leasing land and creating an economy of scale that helps to keep the price of imported inputs down. They also provide good jobs, which range all the way from field worker to scientist.
What have the anti-GMO groups done, except polarize communities and cost taxpayers money? They produce nothing — nothing but propaganda, fear and political demagogues. And they do much of their work in the shadows, skirting the transparency and disclosure they're constantly demanding in others.
Meanwhile supposed "investigative reporters" like Rick Daysog keep missing the story, even when it's laid out for them.