Washington attorney general seeks to penalize GMA over alleged deception

By Legal News Line | Jan 26, 2016

OLYMPIA, Washington (Legal Newsline) — Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced his office will seek a grant summary judgment to penalize the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) for its alleged intentional deception in eluding state campaign finance laws.

The case deals with GMA’s financing of a 2013 campaign against Initiative 522. This initiative would require the labeling of genetically engineering products. A political committee was formed that fought for “No on 522,” and GMA, a Washington, D.C.-based trade association, was its largest donor, the attorney general said.

“The crux of this case is transparency,” Ferguson said. “GMA intentionally shielded from public scrutiny the true identity of the companies who donated millions of dollars to this campaign — it was a flagrant violation of state law.”

Ferguson filed a lawsuit in 2013. According to his office, GMA violated the state’s campaign finance disclosure laws by allegedly soliciting and collecting more than $11 million from its members, then placing that money in a special account to help oppose Initiative 522 – without disclosing the contributions’ source.

These allegations would make for the largest political funding concealment case in Washington state history. The state seeks to unseal the GMA documents and asks for penalties in the case.

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