With funding reaching $22 million, the GMA "intentionally took steps to create and then hide the true source of the funds… from the voting public of Washington State," Anne Hirsch, Thurston County Superior Court Judge, wrote in a pretrial ruling.
According to Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, GMA raised some $14 million from its members in solicitations for a special "Defense of Brands" fund, above and beyond regular member dues.
The top contributor to the fund was PepsiCo, contributing $2.696 million.
Judge Anne Hirsh ruled the group purposefully sought to hide donors from public scrutiny.
"In enacting the Public Campaign Finance Laws, the people of Washington directed that they be interpreted liberally, to promote transparency and full disclosure to the voters," Hirsch's decision reads. "By its actions creating the [Defense of Brands] account, the GMA violated the spirit and letter of Washington's Public Campaign Finance Laws."
GMO labeling laws remain in hot dispute, with well-funded, corporate-based campaigns going up against environmental groups and small organic farm cooperatives in attempts to get state policymakers to legislate favorably.