State judge fines food group $18M in 2013 GMO ballot fight

Associated Press

SEATTLE — A Thurston County judge has penalized a food industry group $18 million for concealing the true source of contributions to oppose a 2013 food labeling initiative.

Judge Anne Hirsch on Wednesday found the Grocery Manufacturers Association “intentionally violated” state campaign finance disclosure laws as it raised and spent money to defeat Initiative 522. That failed ballot measure would have required labeling of genetically modified foods.

Because the judge found that group intentionally violated the law, her civil penalty of $6 million will be tripled to $18 million.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson sued the trade association in 2013, alleging it collected money from member companies and engaged in a scheme to shield those contributions from public scrutiny.

The group argued that it believed it complied with the law and said that if it had unintentionally violated the law, it was an “inadvertent mistake” that should warrant only a modest penalty.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Granite Falls
Prosecutors: ‘Yo mama’ joke led to racist assault in Granite Falls

A man took offense and went into a rage, spewing racist slurs as he beat up a teenager, charging papers say.

Ella Larson, left, and Simon Fuentes sort through blueberries at Hazel Blue Acres on Friday, Aug. 12, 2022 in Arlington, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Fruits, flowers and bees aplenty in Arlington farm fete

First-ever event highlights local growers’ bounty and contributions to local community

The Everett Districting Commission is proposing four adjustments to the city council districts based on 2020 Census data. (City of Everett)
Proposed map shifts every Everett City Council district

Census data from 2020 prompted several “small tweaks” to council district boundaries.

Cars wait to turn onto Highway 9 from Bickford Avenue on Wednesday, May 18, 2022 in Snohomish, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Highway 9 stretch closing for roundabout work next week

Drivers will need to use detours as the closure affects the stretch between Second and 30th streets in Snohomish.

Commanding Officer Meghan Bodnar is greeted by her son Grady, who hasn’t seen her in 224 days, at Naval Station Everett on Thursday, Aug. 11, 2022 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
After 200-plus days abroad, Navy destroyers return to Everett homeport

The USS Gridley is one of the few women-led ships, attesting to a growing number of women in the U.S. military.

Snohomish County is considering buying the America's Best Value Inn in Edmonds and converting it into shelter. Photographed in Edmonds, Washington on August 15, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Snohomish County eyes another motel-to-shelter project in Edmonds

The potential $9.1 million purchase was announced on the heels of another proposed motel-to-shelter conversion in Everett.

Community Transit's Lynnwood microtransit pilot project is set to launch this fall with a service area around the Alderwood mall. (Community Transit)
Lynnwood’s microtransit test begins this fall, others possible

Community Transit could launch other on-demand services in Arlington, Darrington and Lake Stevens.

Abortion rights protesters fill all four corners of the intersection in front of the Everett Planned Parenthood in support of abortion rights on Saturday, July 9, 2022 (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
GOP cheered abortion ruling. Democrats responded by voting.

A swell of electoral support for Democrats pushed turnout higher in primary. Republicans look to adjust for November

People begin to gather on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022, at the North Mountain Fire Lookout north of Darrington, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
‘A labor of love’: Restoration of lookout north of Darrington now complete

Volunteers spent eight years repairing the 57-year-old North Mountain Fire Lookout. Last week, they gathered to celebrate.

Most Read