OLYMPIA – A Washington State court ruled the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) violated state campaign finance disclosure laws by failing to disclose the source of $11 million in contributions to the association’s campaign to defeat a GMO labeling initiative. But GMA said the association always intended to follow state disclosure laws.
The case, State v. Grocery Manufacturers Association, stems from GMA’s financing of a 2013 campaign against Initiative 522 (I-522), which sought to require companies to label bioengineered products. State prosecutors argued that GMA used $11 million of $14 million in contributions to the “No on 522” initiative, but documented the money as coming from GMA and not the actual donors.
In a statement, GMA said the ruling “…will hurt the constitutionally protected right of trade associations to engage in political debate in the state.”
“The ruling today noted that there is evidence that GMA believed its conduct was appropriate under state law, which is an important point in determining any penalty,” GMA added. “In the upcoming trial, we believe the facts will show that GMA always intended to comply with the law.”