Friday, October 4, 2013

Judge Slaps Moms with $10,000 Fine After Grocery Industry Brings Anti-SLAPP Suit | Slog

Judge Slaps Moms with $10,000 Fine After Grocery Industry Brings Anti-SLAPP Suit | Slog:

In a Bizarro World ruling today that flips Washington State's Anti-SLAPP statute upside down, Thurston County Superior Court Judge Chris Wickham has fined pro-Initiative 522 group "Moms for Labeling" $10,000 plus potentially tens of thousands of dollars more in attorneys fees for bringing a suit alleging violations of our state campaign finance disclosure laws.
Moms for Labeling—an organization consisting of a handful of actual moms—had alleged that the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA) solicited from members a special voluntary assessment to be earmarked toward defeating I-522, an initiative that would require labeling of foods made from ingredients derived from genetically modified crops (GMOs). Under Washington State law, such earmarking of solicitations for political purposes would automatically classify the GMA as a political action committee (PAC), with all the disclosure and reporting requirements that would entail. The GMA has failed to file as a PAC, and has failed to disclose its donors.
The allegations were based on tips from unnamed industry insiders. Moms for Labeling was seeking an expedited discovery period during which they could subpoena records and uncover evidence. But the GMA responded by filing a countersuit under Washington's Anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) statute, a law generally intended to protect individual citizens and public interest groups from frivolous lawsuits by big corporations.

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