Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Maine Supreme Court: National Organization for Marriage Must Disclose Donors, and Fred Karger's Commentary

At The New Civil Rights Movement, Fred Karger comments on the recent ruling by the Maine Supreme Court that the anti-gay group National Organization for Marriage must disclose the names of donors who gave megabucks in 2009 to strip gay citizens of Maine of the right to civil marriage. Inquiring minds (including mine) have long wanted to know who's funding NOM, and why NOM fights so desperately to keep the identity of its top donors hidden, even flouting state campaign-finance laws to achieve that goal.

When it became apparent that NOM's refusal to disclose the names of the donors funding its campaign in Maine in 2009 was in violation of state laws, Fred Karger filed a complaint with the Maine Ethics Commission, which ruled that NOM had to disclose this information in conformity to Maine law. NOM litigated and litigated and spent and spent (as it has done in every state where similar pressure for disclosure is applied), and the upshot was the recent state Supreme Court decision.


We now know from Brown’s depositions that three of his mega-contributors gave NOM $1 million, $400,000 and $300,000 to be used in the Maine election that year. Brown conveniently couldn’t remember the names of these three very generous donors when questioned by Maine Assistant Attorney General Thomas Knowlton a few months later. 
Any guesses? 
All evidence points to the fact that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church) created NOM in 2007 to qualify and pass California’s Proposition 8 the following year. The Mormon Church conspired with the Catholic Church in California, but the Mormons got busted. The LDS Church raised $30 million of the $40 million it took to pass Prop 8. Between 2008 and 2009 the Mormon Church was also investigated, prosecuted, fined and found guilty on 13 counts of election fraud by the California Fair Political Practices Commission for all it did to pass Prop 8 and didn’t report. By the time Maine rolled around a year later, it appears that the Mormon Church had retreated and tried to fly under the radar. 
But did the LDS Church or one of its wealthy members write out the $1 million check to NOM expecting that it would never be discovered? What about the Catholic Church? It was the face of the campaign to repeal Maine’s gay marriage law that year, but Catholic dioceses from around the country gave openly to pass Maine’s Question 1. Its political arm, the Knights of Columbus gave $50,000.  So it’s unlikely that the Catholics wouldn’t launder additional money to NOM, and then go through nearly four years of legal battles to keep it secret.

I think it will be interesting to see if NOM tries now to find a way around the Maine Supreme Court ruling, and if the stonewalling continues despite that ruling. There's clearly something this group, which claims to be a "grassroots" organization but is funded almost exclusively by several hidden donors with deep pockets, wants to keep hidden.

The photo of Justice Brandeis is from the Library of Congress and is in the public domain.

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