State says grocers group broke law, must reveal donors

  • By Jerry Cornfield
  • Wednesday, October 16, 2013 1:38pm
  • Local News

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson set out today to force the Grocery Manufacturing Association to disclose the source of its $7.2 million in contributions to the campaign against a food labeling initiative.

Ferguson filed a lawsuit today in Thurston County today alleging the national trade association collected special assessments from its members for specific use in opposing Initiative 522. He alleges leaders of the organization told members that they could keep their names secret to shield them from criticism for opposing the measure.

Ferguson contends that under state law once the organization established a separate account to fight the ballot measure it needed to register as a political action committee and document the collection and use of those dollars. That would have forced the GMA to file regular reports with the state Public Disclosure Commission listing contributors to the effort, how much they gave and how the money was spent.

If the GMA does not act immediately to reveal the donors, the state is prepared to seek a court order to do so, he said.

Today’s lawsuit was triggered by a complaint filed by Karen Andonian and Moms for Labeling on Aug. 26 with the Attorney General’s Office.

That letter prompted the Public Disclosure Commission to open an investigation. Materials obtained by the PDC staff led the attorney general to act, Ferguson said.

Moms for Labeling registered as a political committee in late September and has reported receiving a $26,095 in-kind contribution to date. The contribution for legal services was provided by Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, which is the top contributor to the Yes on Initiative 522 campaign.

This afternoon, GMA spokesman Brian Kennedy emailed the following statement:

“The Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) has been advised that the Attorney General has filed a complaint against the association related to state campaign disclosure law and the organization’s financial support of the ‘No on 522’ campaign.

“We are looking into the complaint and the specific allegations it contains. GMA takes great care to understand and comply with all state election and campaign finance laws and is surprised to learn that the Washington State authorities viewed the association’s actions as improper.

“GMA will review its actions in Washington State and relevant statutes and continue to cooperate with state authorities to fully resolve the issue as promptly as possible.”

More in Local News

Snohomish man, 63, missing from home since Monday

He left without his keys, wallet and phone, saying something about going to “the river.”

Firefighters come to the rescue and give mom new stroller

Donations to the Good Neighbor Program covered the $143.20 cost.

Case unresolved: The noose at an Edmonds construction site

Though two were fired over comments about it, police were unable to determine who put it there.

To get drug money, Lynnwood man says he cut 911 wires

Those wires happened to be the ones used by 911 dispatchers, but emergency services weren’t affected.

February trial set for suspect in deadly Marysville shooting

There had been questions about Wayne Alpert’s mental health.

Fatal car crash reported on Highway 92 near Lake Stevens

The 3 p.m. accident and investigation stopped traffic in both directions near Machias Road.

Motorcyclist killed in crash had high level of THC

A motorcyclist had more than eight times the legal limit… Continue reading

Front Porch

EVENTS Teen Night at the Schack The next free Teen Night is… Continue reading

Police: Driver threatens pedestrian, ends up in drug bust

Meth, cocaine and heroin were found in his car, along with a loaded pistol and cash, police say.

Most Read