Justices: $18M campaign finance penalty to be reconsidered

SEATTLE (AP) — The Washington Supreme Court has ordered a lower court to reconsider the largest penalty for campaign finance violations ever assessed in the state. A judge imposed an $18 million penalty against the Grocery Manufacturers Association for violations in 2013, after the organization spent $11 million to defeat an initiative that would have required labeling of genetically modified organisms on food packaging. In a ruling Thursday, a majority of the justices agreed that the organization concealed the source of money. The majority said the violations were intentional, but that the state appeals court must determine whether the $18 million is so high that it violates constitutional protections against excessive punishment.