Washington state court rules against GMA in campaign finance disclosure case

By Mark Iandolo | Mar 15, 2016

OLYMPIA, Wash. (Legal Newsline) – Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced that a Thurston County Superior Court judge ruled in favor of the state in the case against Grocery Manufacturer’s Association. The court ruled GMA violated Washington campaign finance disclosure laws.

“This landmark case has been a long fight for accountability,” Ferguson said. “This ruling sends an unequivocal message: Big money donors cannot evade Washington law and hide from public scrutiny. My office will hold you accountable.”

The case concerned GMA’s financing of a campaign back in 2013 that fought against Initiative 522. GMA was the largest donor to the campaign, yet allegedly hid which companies had supplied it with funding.

“In enacting the Public Campaign Finance Laws, the people of Washington directed that they be interpreted liberally, to promote transparency and full disclosure to the voters,” Judge Anne Hirsch said in her decision. “By its actions creating the [Defense of Brands] account, the GMA violated the spirit and letter of Washington’s Public Campaign Finance Laws.”

The court announced that it had yet to find evidence that GMA knowingly violated laws. Therefore, no penalty has been handed down at the moment.

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