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WA Judge Won’t Dismiss GMO Campaign Finance Suit

June 19, 2014
by Candy & Snack TODAY

Olympia, WA — A motion filed by the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) to dismiss a lawsuit filed against it by the office of the state attorney general has been rejected by Thurston County Superior Court Judge Christine Schlatter on constitutional grounds.

The suit, filed in October 2013, alleges GMA solicited and collected an estimated $10.6 million from its members and stored the donations in a special “Defense of Brand” fund to conceal its use in defeating Washington’s Initiative 522 (I-522). By not disclosing the source of the funds, the association violated state campaign finance disclosure laws, according to Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

GMA countersued in January 2014, claiming the state unconstitutionally enforced campaign finance laws and requested the suit be dismissed.

In her decision to allow the case to go to trial, Schlatter ruled state campaign finance laws requiring formation of a political committee and pertinent disclosures was, in fact, constitutional. However, she declared unconstitutional the statute mandating the association’s political committee obtain $10 donations from 10 registered Washington voters before donating to another committee. The attorney general’s office announced it will review that ruling.

I-522 would have required labels on food containing genetically modified organisms. The measure was narrowly defeated.

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