OLYMPIA, Wash. (Legal Newsline) — Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced Nov. 2 that a Thurston County Superior Court judge has ordered the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) to pay $18 million in penalties and punitive damages after allegations of intentionally violating campaign finance laws.
“In light of all the evidence in the record, it is not credible that GMA executives believed that shielding GMA’s members as the true source of contributions to GMA’s Defense of Brands Account was legal,” Judge Anne Hirsch wrote in her ruling.
Ferguson examined GMA when looking into the finances of opposition to voter Initiative 522, which would have required labeling of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, in food sold to consumers.
“I took this case to trial because the GMA needed to be held accountable for their arrogance and willful disregard of Washington state campaign finance laws,” Ferguson said.
GMA is a trade group based in Washington, D.C., that represents major food, beverage and consumer companies. The $18 million judgment against the group is believed to be the largest involving campaign finance in the country’s history, Ferguson's office said.