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.