State attorney general seeks fines against grocery group for 2013 election contributions

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — Attorney General Bob Ferguson is asking a court to penalize the Grocery Manufacturers Association for violating the state's campaign finance laws during a 2013 campaign to defeat a measure that would have required labeling genetically engineered foods.

Ferguson's office announced Monday that the state filed a motion for summary judgment with Thurston County Superior Court on Friday.

A spokesman for the association said they filed a complaint seeking to have the lawsuit dismissed, saying that the complaint is "an unconstitutional limitation on GMA's freedom to speak on behalf of its members."

Ferguson sued the group in October 2013, alleging it collected more than $11 million from its members, placed those funds in a special "Defense of Brands" account and used them to oppose Initiative 522, without disclosing the true source of the contributions.

I-522 was defeated with 51 percent of the vote.