Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 
Apr 8 2016

OLYMPIA — A trial to determine whether the Grocery Manufacturers Association’s violation of Washington campaign finance disclosure laws was intentional, and what penalties it should face, will begin Monday in Thurston County Superior Court.

After finding that GMA did violate the law and granting summary judgment to the state in March, Judge Anne Hirsch noted there remained a factual dispute whether GMA’s violation of the law was intentional.

Under the law, sanctions for campaign finance disclosure violations can include a penalty equal to the amount not reported as required. If the court finds that the violation was intentional, that penalty amount can be tripled.

The state’s trial brief can be found here.

The case, State v. Grocery Manufacturers Association, concerns GMA’s financing of a 2013 campaign against Initiative 522, which sought to require labeling of genetically engineered products. GMA, a Washington, D.C.-based trade association, was the largest single donor to the “No on 522” political committee.

GMA raised $14 million from its members in solicitations for a new “Defense of Brands” account, above and beyond regular member dues. PepsiCo, for example, contributed nearly $3 million to the account, and Nestle and Coca-Cola upwards of $2 million each.

The trial starts at 8:30 a.m. Monday, April 11, before Judge Hirsch. Thurston County Superior Court is located at 2000 Lakeridge Drive, SW, in Olympia.

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The Office of the Attorney General is the chief legal office for the state of Washington with attorneys and staff in 27 divisions across the state providing legal services to roughly 200 state agencies, boards and commissions. Visit www.atg.wa.gov to learn more.

Contact:

Peter Lavallee, Communications Director, (360) 586-0725; PeterL@atg.wa.gov