Wednesday, October 23, 2013

High Stakes Court Hearing for No on 522 Today

(2) Fuse Washington:

Subject: 2:30pm Hearing in Moms for Labeling Case Against No on 522
Date: October 23, 2013 11:05:34 AM PDT

High Stakes Court Hearing for No on 522 Today
No on 522 could be forced to return up to $7 million in illegal contributions

(Seattle) – Moms for Labeling will have a hearing on Wednesday, October 23 on their motion to freeze millions of dollars in illegal contributions to the No on 522 campaign and require it to comply with Washington’s public disclosure laws. 

The hearing is before Judge Christopher Wickham at 2:30 p.m. in Thurston County Superior Court, Room 201. 

“The anti-labeling campaign has been dishonest with voters right from the beginning,” said Seattle resident Pam Johnson, a co-chair of Moms for Labeling.  “We have a right to know who is funding the no campaign just like we have the right to know what's in our food, and we are determined to hold them accountable for running a campaign funded by illegal contributions.”

Moms for Labeling has also asked the court to prohibit the No on 522 Campaign from accepting further contributions from the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) and to grant a “writ of sequestration,” which would protect some or all of the illegally concealed contributions for the payment of penalties. Under RCW 42.17A.750 (e) (, a person who fails to report a contribution “may be subject to a civil penalty equivalent to the amount not reported as required,” which in this case is more than $7 million.   

Moms for Labeling filed with the same judge assigned to Attorney General Bob Ferguson’s lawsuit against the GMA. This judge previously ruled that Moms for Labeling’s allegations appeared to both have merit and be supported by evidence, but that Moms for Labeling could not bring its case until after a 55-day statutory notice period. That period ended Oct. 18.  

Moms for Labeling filed a motion for a temporary restraining order (TRO) to require the No on 522 campaign to remove its ads from the airways until it corrected its “top five contributors” disclosure and listed its actual top contributors. In addition, Moms for Labeling has asked the court to require the No on 522 campaign to return the illegal contributions. Under Washington law, a political committee that received illegal funds has the duty to return illegal or potentially illegal contributions (see previously mentioned RCW 42.17A.750 [e]).

“The law is very clear – No on 522 is required to return illegal contributions,” said Knoll Lowney, attorney for Moms for Labeling. 

Moms for Labeling has added a supplemental brief covering additional violations and arguing that the GMA was never legally qualified to make contributions to the No on 522 campaign in the first place. The GMA retroactively formed a political action committee (PAC) and disclosed their donors, but state law requires that a PAC receive 10 donations of $10 or more from registered voters in Washington prior to making contributions, which it has not done, according to the Public Disclosure Commission.  

Ferguson described Moms for Labeling’s allegations as “uncovering the largest concealment of campaign contributions in Washington state history.” Ferguson has not initiated an enforcement action against the No on 522 campaign to address its false disclosures and other alleged violations.

Hearing location: 


Collin Jergens

Communications Director

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