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Attorney General obtains GMA agreement to register and disclose donors
The following is a release from the Washington State Attorney General's office:
Attorney General Bob Ferguson today announced the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) has agreed to disclose the financing of its campaign to oppose Initiative 522. The agreement eliminates the need to seek court intervention to compel such disclosure. The GMA agreed to file reports with the Public Disclosure Commission and produce information related to its members’ contributions by close of business Friday, Oct. 18.
The GMA board voted to register as a political committee and file required documents regarding their effort to oppose Initiative 522. Initiative 522 is a measure requiring labeling of genetically engineered foods, seeds and seed products in Washington.
The GMA will create a separate political committee, register it with the state’s Public Disclosure Commission (PDC), and file reports indicating who contributed, how much they contributed, and how the money was spent to oppose I-522. Once the reports are filed, the public can view them on the PDC’s website.
The GMA board’s decision eliminates the need for the Attorney General’s Office to seek a temporary restraining order to force GMA to comply with Washington state campaign finance laws.
“The people of Washington demand transparency in elections,” Ferguson said. “I’m pleased the GMA board recognized their responsibility to disclose the names of companies who contributed to opposing Initiative 522, and the amount of their contributions.”
“In the spirit of continuing cooperation and in an effort to provide Washington voters with full transparency about GMA’s funding for the ‘No on 522’ campaign, the association has decided to voluntarily establish a Washington state political committee and to file reports with the PDC disclosing the source of all funds used in connection with Washington state elections,” said GMA.
Ferguson filed suit Wednesday in Thurston County Superior Court alleging that the GMA violated the state’s campaign disclosure laws. The GMA illegally collected and spent more than $7 million while shielding the identity of its donors.
The Grocery Manufacturers Association is a trade association, based in Washington DC, representing more than 300 food, beverage and consumer product companies. It is the biggest single donor to the No on I-522 campaign.