April 18, 2016
The ongoing legal proceedings in the state of Washington against the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) serve to illustrate the depth of corruption and illegal activity to which the pro-GMO movement is willing to stoop while pushing their agenda.
The GMA, a Washington, D.C.-based trade organization closely associated with the GMO industry, has been charged with money-laundering in its campaign against a GMO food labeling initiative launched in Washington in 2013.
Initiative 522, which would have required labels on any foods containing genetically modified ingredients, failed to pass in the November 2013 general election.
Since then, it has been revealed that the GMA hid the identities of big corporations who donated millions to a “defense of brands” account which was used to fund a “No on 522” campaign.
$14 million was contributed to the “defense of brands” account from corporations including PepsiCo (nearly $3 million), Coca-Cola and Nestle (more than $2 million each).
The GMA then transferred $11 million of the contributed money to the “No on 522” campaign.
The Washington State Attorney General’s Office has charged the GMA with violating state public disclosure laws.
GMA could face tens of millions of dollars in damages
A ruling against the GMA could result in tens of millions in damages. If the court finds that the organization deliberately concealed corporate donors’ identities, the original damages amount – which is likely to based on the amount of donations involved – could be tripled.
From a Washington Attorney General press release:
Under the law, sanctions for campaign finance disclosure violations can include a penalty equal to the amount not reported as required. If the court finds that the violation was intentional, that penalty amount can be tripled.
In that case, the damages could reach more than $40 million, and it seems that Attorney General Bob Ferguson is eager to seek justice. “We look forward to making our case on intentionality and penalties,” he said, as reported by seattlepi.com.
In March, Thurston County Superior Court judge Anne Hirsch ruled that the GMA was indeed guilty of violating the law but postponed setting damages until it could be proven whether or not the concealment was deliberate.