State asks judge to fine grocery group in 2013 ballot fight

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — A lawyer for Washington state has asked a judge to penalize a food industry group, alleging it concealed the source of $11 million in campaign contributions to oppose a 2013 food labeling initiative. Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson sued the Grocery Manufacturers...

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — A lawyer for Washington state has asked a judge to penalize a food industry group, alleging it concealed the source of $11 million in campaign contributions to oppose a 2013 food labeling initiative.

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson sued the Grocery Manufacturers Association in October 2013, saying it collected money from member companies to defeat Initiative 522 but engaged in a scheme to shield those contributions from public scrutiny. Voters narrowly rejected the initiative, which would have required labeling of genetically modified foods.

Thurston County Superior Court Judge Anne Hirsch heard arguments in the case on Friday. She said she would issue a written ruling at a later date.

Assistant attorney general Linda Dalton told the judge the group violated state campaign disclosure laws and must be held accountable.

The trade association's attorney, Matthew Gardner, said there was no scheme to defraud and that the state's interpretation of the laws is too vague.

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