Bryan Cohen Nov. 21, 2013, 7:28pm

OLYMPIA, Wash. (Legal Newsline) - Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced Wednesday that his office amended its lawsuit against the Grocery Manufacturers Association to reflect millions of dollars in additional campaign contributions.

On Oct. 16, Ferguson filed a lawsuit against GMA alleging it solicited and collected about $7.2 million from its members in a special account to oppose a legislative measure without reporting the funds to the Public Disclosure Commission, in violation of state campaign finance laws. The amended complaint increases the amount the state alleges GMA collected without reporting the funds to the PDC from $7.2 million to $10.6 million.

"Washington state voters demand transparency and openness in elections," Ferguson said. "All sides must follow the rules by disclosing who their donors are and how much they are spending to advocate their views."

The GMA is a trade association based in Washington, D.C., that represents more than 300 food, beverage and consumer product companies. GMA allegedly failed to form a political committee, register it in Washington and follow Washington campaign finance disclosure requirements before contributing money to a campaign called the No on 522 campaign.

Initiative 522 was a measure before Washington voters on the Nov. 5 ballot that required mandatory labeling of genetically engineered seeds, seed products and food in the state. Voters rejected the measure by 51.75 percent.

The GMA has 60 days to respond to the original lawsuit and 60 days to respond to the amended lawsuit.

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