Major Judgement Sought Against WA Food Labeling Initiative Supporter
The Washington State Attorney General's office is asking a judge for a summary judgement against an out-of-state lobbying firm that was supporting the failed Initiative 522 back in 2013, the 'food labeling' initiative concerning GMO products.
AG Bob Ferguson is asking for the summary judgement, which means he's seeking to have the judge bypass a hearing or trial, and issue a verdict based on evidence already presented. Summary judgements are usually asked for when one party believes they have a "slam dunk" case, where the evidence is so overwhelming a judge can't help but issue a guilty, or not guilty verdict.
Ferguson has been investigating the Iowa-based group Food Democracy Action!'s donations in support of I-522, which would have required all genetically modified foods to be labeled as such in stores, and wherever they are sold. Opponents, including former Washington State Secretary of Agriculture Dan Newhouse, condemned the plan as costly and unnecessary. It was defeated by voters.
Thousands of products we consume every day contain some sort of genetic modification, from processes that resist bugs and disease, to those that help maximize food growth and nutrition.
The Food Democracy group raised some $300,000 towards supporting the "Yes on I-522" campaign, but DID NOT disclose who it's supporters or donors were. After a consumer action complaint was filed over this action, the group did send a list of who it's contributors were (required by law) but didn't fully disclose all of them. Ferguson says they broke a number of campaign finance and disclosure laws.
The group has been accused of similar actions in 2012 when they were supporting a similar initiative in California.
If Ferguson finds the group deliberately broke campaign finance and disclosure laws, the penalties sought will be tripled. Ferguson has asked for the summary judgement, otherwise, a trial has been scheduled to begin March 25th in Thurston County Superior Court.