Thursday | July 27, 2017
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GMO foes come to Wille’s rescue

Kohala Councilwoman Margaret Wille, pummeled by attack ads from a Honolulu political action committee, has received a late-campaign $4,000 shot in the arm from genetically modified food opponents.

According to late campaign reports filed Wednesday with the state Campaign Spending Commission, Wille received $2,000 each from two Charlevoix, Michigan, individuals. One of them is Kent Whealy, co-founder of the Seed Saver Exchange, and a GMO opponent who gave $1 million to an unsuccessful 2012 California ballot initiative to require GMO labeling.

The money is significant as Wille had raised only $7,935 as of her last campaign filing. But Wille said the numbers don’t tell the whole story because she has also gotten a significant number of smaller contributions from local donors that won’t be reported until after the primary.

Wille, who sponsored a bill passed by the County Council regulating GMO crops on Hawaii Island, said she met Whealy and the other donor, Judith Kern, at a concert in January.

“I met them and we talked and they liked my bill,” Wille said Thursday.

Wille has been fighting a negative advertising radio and mailer campaign paid for by Forward Progress, a super PAC formed July 11 by the same group in charge of the recently terminated Pacific Resource Partnership. Both groups get their funding from Hawaii Carpenters Market Recovery Program, a pro-construction PAC.

“I think there’s a lot of anger over this type of campaigning,” Wille said. “I just trust that people aren’t going to be misled by all these false and misleading statements.

The super PAC, which operates independently of candidates, is also funding mailers on behalf of Ronald Gonzales, one of two challengers for the incumbent councilwoman’s seat. Gonzales has raised $17,328 on his own.

Gonzales, who didn’t report any late campaign contributions, said he’s getting attacked as well.

“I’m definitely leading the race and getting smeared,” Gonzales said. “All these letters to the editor, I’m getting painted in the most negative way.”

Gonzales said he hasn’t taken any money from GMO companies, although he is getting a lot of support from local farmers.

The third candidate in the race, Oliver “Sonny” Shimaoka, has raised only $400 so far.

Two other candidates also reported late contributions of $500 or more. District 1 Councilwoman Valerie Poindexter reported $1,000 from Texas developer Woody Hunt, and District 2 candidate Aaron Chung reported $3,000 from two union PACs.

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