Wash. AG Sues Food Industry Group for Alleged I-522 Violation

Oct 16, 2013

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson is suing Washington, D.C.-based Grocery Manufacturers Association for allegedly violating campaign finance laws with the $7 million used to fight Initiative 522, which would require new labels identifying genetically-modified foods.

Ferguson says the association shielded the identities of the contributors, depriving voters of important information.

"Back in 1972, voters approved an initiative that required campaign finance disclosures. Because the people believe there should not be secrecy when it comes to elections. We should know who pays for television ads. We should know who pays to promote a certain position in the public sphere. And that's not happening here," he said. 

Ferguson says this is the largest amount of campaign money that has ever been concealed in Washington. He says the Grocery Manufacturers Association should have formed a separate political committee that would require more disclosure. 

The Grocery Manufacturers Association, in a statement, said it is surprised by the lawsuit and will cooperate with authorities to resolve the issue quickly.  The state attorney general's office hopes the donors who are opposed to initiative 522 will be revealed as early as next week.