Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Formal Complaint Filed Against National Organization for Marriage for Violating Iowa Election Laws

NOTE: Last week, the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board sent the National Organization for Marriage a sharp warning for their involvement in Iowa elections, the outcomes of which can directly affect the state's legalization of marriage equality. On Monday, One Iowa and the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa Action Fund and Ethics filed an official complaint. Following is their press release with the actual complaint at the bottom of the post.

A formal complaint detailing election violations by the Washington DC-based National Organization for Marriage (NOM) was filed this afternoon [August 31] with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board. The Interfaith Alliance of Iowa Action Fund and One Iowa signed the complaint that details NOM’s clear violation of Iowa campaign finance law in their Iowa House District 90 campaign.

“NOM’s last minute, and desperate campaign directly violates Iowa law and is right out of their deceitful playbook,” said Carolyn Jenison, Executive Director of One Iowa. “NOM has a history of funneling secret money to fund divisive political campaigns across the country with little regard for laws allowing voters to know who is bankrolling those campaigns.”

On August 20, 2009, NOM reported making an independent expenditure of $86,060 to benefit Stephen Burgmeier, a candidate in tomorrow’s Iowa House District 90 special election. The complaint alleges the expenditure violates Iowa election laws requiring disclosure of political contributors. Similar complaints have been filed against NOM in California and Maine.

“We reject the use of divisive fear-based appeals to influence Iowa elections and believe transparency is vital to a healthy democratic process,” said Connie Ryan Terrell, Executive Director of the Interfaith Alliance of Iowa Action Fund.

“If NOM wants to play ball in Iowa, they must play by our rules,” said Brad Clark, One Iowa Campaign Director. “Stephen Burgmeier hasn’t been able to stand on his own, so wealthy out-of-state extremists have been called in at the last minute to stack the deck in his favor.”

The complaint comes on the heels of last Friday’s letter from the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board warning that NOM’s attempts to shield their political contributors could run afoul of Iowa election laws.

“Election laws are necessary to protect public confidence in our democratic system,” said Sharon Malheiro, Des Moines attorney. “When outsiders try to pervert the justice system and work around the election laws of our state, our public officials must call them out and hold them accountable.”

One Iowa NOM Complaint


  1. Does anybody happen to know what the consequences might be?

  2. NOM fail! The returns are coming in now for the special election and NOM's candidate is losing. Only 6 precincts left to report and they are all heavily Democrat. Since NOM's candidate is already losing, the outcome is inevitable.

    They have not only wasted their money, but they have hurt their credibility by insisting that this special election was "critical" and by making it a centerpiece of their Reclaim Iowa campaign.


  3. Anthony,
    I'm not sure. I would think it depends on what the outcome of a possible investigation would be.

  4. 1. All precincts are in and it is confirmed that NOM's candidate, Stephen Burgmeier, was defeated. He did surprisingly well in those last 6 precincts (in Wapello county) primarily because turnout in that traditionally Democratic county was very light, but he did not do well enough to overcome his deficit.

    2. Just wanted to tell Unite The Fight that I really like this blog. It is well-written and unique. It had the best coverage of the 2010 v. 2012 debate of any blog. Really great work. I hope you continue until you get on everyone's radar.

    Also, I hope you will give high priority to coverage of Maine, which is far and away the most important gay story of the year.

  5. Thank you. I truly appreciate that - it's not easy keeping up with the fast pace of new developments in this movement!

    And definitely about Maine. I've covered Maine a lot and intend to keep it front and center.

  6. I am glad that Burgmeir has been defeated. Unfortuately, the Democrat that won a very close race in a Democrat-leaning district is not much better. According to the Des Moines Register, "Both candidates support allowing a constitutional vote on whether Iowa should ban same-sex marriage." So, while I am glad that NOM did not succeed in electing their candidate, the results of this race may not be much comfort for those of us who support marriage equality.