Matt Baume: Marriage News Watch
4 minutes ago
By E-Mail and Federal ExpressSo, Mr. Brown, are you going to get your PR machine at the Washington Post to write you out of this one?
Joseph A. Keaney, Treasurer
Stand for Marriage Maine PAC
One Monument Way, Second Floor
Portland, Maine 04101
By E-Mail and Federal Express
Brian S. Brown, Executive Director
National Organization for Marriage
20 Nassau Street, Suite 242
Princeton, NJ 08542
OPPORTUNITY TO RESPOND TO REQUEST FOR INVESTIGATION
On August 13 and 24, 2009, the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices received correspondence via email from Fred Karger of Californians against Hate alleging that the Stand for Marriage Maine PAC and some of its contributors have violated the campaign finance laws of the State of Maine. He requests that the Commission investigate whether the violations have occurred. I have enclosed his requests, along with my August 14 memo to Mr. Karger asking him to provide more specific information in support of his request.
As explained below, the Commission is statutorily required to consider Mr. Karger's request. The Commission will consider the request at its meeting on Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 9:00 a.m. The meeting will be held in Room 208 of the Burton M. Cross Office Building, 111 Sewall Street in Augusta. At that meeting, I anticipate that the Commissioners will decide whether to conduct any investigation regarding the compliance issues listed below.
Your Opportunity to Respond to Mr. Karger's Request
The Commission would welcome written responses from the Stand for Marriage Maine PAC and the National Organization for Marriage no later than Thursday, September 17, 2009 concerning whether the Commission should conduct an investigation. You are welcome to attend the meeting to comment to the Commission in person and to answer questions. This is a regular meeting, not a formal hearing.
Commission's Standards for Requests for Investigation
Under 21-A M.R.S.A. § 1003(2), a person may apply to the Commission to investigate a PAC's reporting of campaign finance activity. Under this provision, the Commission "shall review the application and shall make the investigation if the reasons stated for the request show sufficient grounds for believing that a violation may have occurred."
Compliance Issues Raised by Fred Karger's Request
Mr. Karger does not specify which provisions of Maine's campaign finance laws were violated by the Stand for Marriage Maine PAC or its contributors. To assist the Commission in deciding whether to conduct any investigation, the Commission staff has identified the following compliance issues that are implicated by Mr. Karger's factual allegations. By discussing these legal issues, the staff does not mean to imply at this time that any investigation is merited.
Stand for Marriage Maine PAC
All PACs are required to report the names and addresses of contributors who have given more than $50 to the PAC. (21-A M.R.S.A. § 1060(6))
In addition, under 21-A M.R.S.A. §§ 1004(3) and 1004-A(3), it is illegal for a PAC to knowingly accept a contribution made by one person in the name of another person.
Mr. Karger alleges that "the four funders of Stand for Marriage Maine are merely conduits for those wishing to hide their contributions. These entities are laundering money to evade the disclosure of the actual contributors to Stand for Marriage Maine." (Aug. 24, 2009 letter, at 1) If true, these allegations might constitute violations of 21-A M.R.S.A. § 1060(6), 1004(3) and 1004-A(3).
National Organization for Marriage
Mr. Karger alleges that the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) has raised funds for the purpose of initiating or promoting the people's veto referendum to repeal P.L. 2009, Ch. 82, and has donated those funds to the Stand for Marriage Maine PAC. His allegations, if true, may indicate that NOM was required to file campaign finance reports with the Commission as a ballot question committee under 21-A M.R.S.A. § 1056-B or was required to register and file reports as a PAC under 21-A M.R.S.A. §§ 1052(5)(A), 1053, and 1058.
Mr. Karger points to a few factual circumstances which could be relevant to whether a violation has occurred: • NOM is a 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organization that is roughly two years old. Based on the information that is presently available to the Commission staff, it appears that NOM has contributed at least $250,000 to the Stand for Marriage Maine PAC. This is a large amount of funding, which could suggest that NOM solicited and received funds for the purpose of initiating the referendum.
• In 2008, NOM formed a committee in California to raise and spend money in support of an amendment to the California State Constitution (Proposition 8) stating that only marriage between a man and a woman would be recognized by the California state government. According to the California Secretary of State, NOM's California committee raised $1,870,134 and contributed $1,561,134 to a larger PAC supporting Proposition 8. So, NOM has demonstrated the capability to raise a significant amount of funds to support a referendum on same sex marriage.
• Mr. Karger has provided the Commission with some fundraising solicitations from NOM stating to potential donors that the funds would be used to oppose the legalization of same sex marriage in New England. The two most relevant are the communications dated March 13 and 31, 2009, which mention Maine specifically.
The March 31st communication refers to "a hard-hitting new radio ad that we're launching today as part of our 2009 Northeast Action Plan ..." and makes the following solicitation: "We're excited about this new ad, but we need your help to keep these ads on the air, especially in states like Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and New Jersey, where coordinated grassroots opposition to pending gay marriage legislation is urgently needed."
The ad was apparently intended to run while the marriage legislation was under consideration by the Maine Legislature (March or April 2009). Nevertheless, the solicitation does seem to look forward to more communications to voters later in the year: "Throughout the year, we'll be rolling out new ads as we work to identify and motivate marriage activists throughout the Northeast." (italics added) This could easily be a reference to communications to voters in support of a referendum petition drive in Maine, which was actively discussed during the 2009 legislative session.
• As Mr. Karger has noted, the March 2009 solicitations from NOM promise its donors anonymity: "[P]lease make the most generous donation you can to help us keep these important ads on the air. Use this hyperlink to make a secure online donation. And unlike in California, every dollar you give to NOM's Northeast Action Plan today is private, with no risk of harassment from gay marriage protestors."
Because of these factual considerations, the staff of the Maine Ethics Commission would welcome a written response by NOM regarding whether there are sufficient grounds to warrant a Commission investigation or fact-finding to determine if NOM was required to file campaign finance reports as a ballot question committee under 21-A M.R.S.A. § 1056-B or to register and file reports as a PAC under 21-A M.R.S.A. §§ 1052(5)(A), 1053, and 1058.
Mr. Karger has alleged that three other contributors to the Stand for Marriage Maine PAC "laundered money." Because the information provided with regard to these contributors is less specific, the Commission staff is not inviting responses from them. Nevertheless, they are copied on this letter so that they are aware of this matter and have an opportunity to submit comments if they wish.
Thank you for considering this invitation. If you have any questions, please feel free to telephone me at (207) 287-4179 or the Commission's Counsel, Assistant Attorney General Phyllis Gardiner, at (207) 626-8830.
In a August 27 letter, the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board, warns the National Organization for Marriage about their campaign activities in Iowa. Here are the key points of the warning (full letter at bottom of post):NOM has a history of funneling money from the Mormon Church into anti-gay measures, while refusing to disclose the source of their funds.
Last Friday NOM filed an independent expenditure report for nearly $90,000 worth of ads. The letter makes clear that to continue to file in this manner would run afoul of Iowa election laws.
- Only an “insignificant and insubstantial amount” of NOM’s income is permitted to come from business organizations
- If advocacy activities in Iowa exceed $750, NOM must form a PAC and disclose contributors
- “To continue to file an independent expenditure statement for future elections in Iowa would mean that your organization is not raising more than $750 from outside sources for such purposes”
One Iowa has been calling for NOM to release the names of their contributors since Monday. Please sign our petition now to keep their feet to the fire!
NOM had previously marketed the following claim to perspective donors: “NOM has the ability to protect donor identities, ensuring that you, your family, and your business are not targeted by gay marriage advocates for harassment.”
The anti-gay marriage group has spent thousands to flood rural Iowa with ads for an anti-gay legislative candidate and has raised funds specifically for their “Reclaim Iowa” campaign. The special election is set for next Tuesday and reports show that NOM has spent more than either of the candidates have spent on the race!
NOM is trying to buy this special election! Demand that they release their donors!
Casting Director James Stiles is putting out the word that he’s looking for two 'real Maine' women to appear in a television ad produced by supporters of traditional marriage.Well, if you're a struggling actor, you'll definitely get attention. Just maybe not the kind you want.
Stiles is looking for a 'teacher type' and a 'working waitress type,' both in the 35-45 age range. If you want to try out, he’s holding auditions from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday (Sept. 2) at the Howard Johnson in South Portland.
If you’re hired, it’s a three day gig that pays $500 a day.
We respect the referendum process and the public’s right to vote, but we have been increasingly concerned that, along with other issues our observers have noted with signatures being accepted that in the view of observers should have been rejected, the Secretary of State has accepted thousands of signatures that were not in compliance with State laws related to fraud in the signature-gathering process.Lurleen of Pam's House Blend reports:
Because of the limited number of signatures turned in, failure to enforce these laws could well lead to a measure being qualified for the ballot that should not be, and that measure has the potential to strip away important protections from thousands of families all across the state. There are domestic partners in every county of the state. They are same sex couples and heterosexual couples where one or both partners is 62 years or older. These couples should not have to worry about whether a partner can take sick leave to care for a loved one who is ill. A firefighter should not have to worry about whether her children will be taken care of if something should happen to her while fighting a fire. These are basic rights and protections that all families should have. Those trying to qualify Referendum 71 for the ballot do not think that families different than theirs should have these protections, so they are trying to overturn the law.
We expect a strong vote in support of the domestic partnership law if it is on the ballot, but we should not put people through the hardship of a statewide campaign and have them go through months of additional worry needlessly. Referendum 71 should only be on the ballot if it has qualified based on legally valid signatures. In order to ensure that it is not put on the ballot in error, we needed to file a legal challenge at this point.
We have waited because we wanted to give the process a chance to work, but we did not want to wait so long as to interfere with the Secretary of State’s ability to produce election materials in a timely manner. This motion will be heard on an expedited basis early next week. You can read the pleadings online.
Meanwhile we need to move full speed ahead with the campaign – the first ballots go out in about 6 weeks!
Here are the problems identified by WAFST in the signature gathering and validation process:To make matters worse for Protect Marriage Washington, the names and addresses of donors to Referendum 71 will not be exempt from public disclosure, the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission decided, denying a request made earlier by the anti-gay group.
- Some of Protect Marriage Washington's (PMW) "signature-gatherers sought to mislead voters into signing by suggesting that they should sign if the supported the expansion of rights and responsibilities for domestic partners."
- "The SoS accepted thousands of signatures on petitions where the required declarations were either left blank, not signed by the person who circulated the petitions or not signed by the declarent." Apparently Larry Stickney's signature had been made into a stamp, and the SoS accepted 2,508 petitions bearing 33,966 signatures stamped with Stickney's name as if he were the person actually circulating those petitions. The SoS "also accepted an additional 162 petitions [bearing 2,058 signatures] where the declaration is entirely blank." A total of 36,154 signatures should be disqualified on this basis. Subtract this from the 137,689 signatures that PMW submitted, and the remaining 101,535 is below the minimum number needed to qualify the referendum for the ballot: 120,577.
- "SOS staff accepted signatures of persons who were not registered voters when they signed the petitions....As of August 26, SOS staff had accepted over 700 previously rejected signatures, including signatures where the signer was not registered before the R-71 petitions were filed.
The time is now for an LGBT march on Washington, and every one of us should be heading to D.C. for the National Equality March planned for October 10–11. Let me explain why, first by reviewing recent events. Then we’ll look back a little in history.David Mixner wrote on his blog that he has "been collecting an amazing number of leading endorsements" which will be announced in September.
A lot of people are saying we need to think big -- real big -- and that we need to stop denigrating ourselves by settling for crumbs, which we never get anyway. Perhaps we need an omnibus LGBT rights bill that covers everything -- go for it all, and leave it at the feet of Congress. Maybe we should amend the 1964 Civil Rights Act to include us. What about going for the most urgent things rather than the easiest—like pushing hard for the president to issue a moratorium on “don’t ask, don’t tell” -- something he has disingenuously said he can’t do and that gay groups more or less have given him a pass on -- rather than sitting idly by and watching careers be destroyed while we continue to investigate options for overturning the policy?
It’s not that I was ever really opposed to the idea of a march. To the contrary, as listeners to my Sirius/XM radio show know, I’ve been talking about marching on Washington ever since the morning after Election Day. For me, it’s been a matter of historical precedent: The black civil rights movement wisely took advantage of a window of opportunity in 1963, when Democrats controlled both the White House and Congress. Republicans could no longer be blamed for the lack of civil rights protections, and marchers knew that media attention would put pressure on the Democrats and shame them into action.
We have that same window of opportunity today.
The Marriage Minutemen, a group organized by the New Jersey Family Policy Council, is holding meetings in conservative churches, mostly in legislative districts where lawmakers are believed to be on the fence on the issue, to tell volunteers how they can help."The Star Ledger is reporting that the state's Catholic bishops are also joining the opposition, with prepared sermons for this weekend's masses called "The Call to Marriage" to be read from the pulpit throughout the state.
Volunteers at the meeting were given specific talking points -- for instance, to say that a state commission that recommended earlier this year that gay marriage be legal was biased. And they heard that the gay-rights advocates also are pressing lawmakers on the issue.
Much of the message was to tell the volunteers they'd have better luck if they talked about policy rather than morality.
"We're not here to take away anybody's rights and we're not here to stand against anything," Len Deo, president of the family policy council. "We're here to stand for something, and that is marriage."
U.S. District Judge David O. Carter ruled the case - the first of several pending challenges to the federal Defense of Marriage Act - must be refiled in federal court.The case caused a huge rift between the LGBT population and the Obama administration when the Department of Justice filed a brief which invoked incest and pedophilia when categorizing same-sex marriage, declaring that it was not in the best interest of the government to recognize such relationships.
Carter said the suit had been improperly filed in state court before it was transferred to his jurisdiction. As a result, the judge said, he would not entertain arguments on its merits, at least not yet.
"There is no point for us to go down the line of decision-making and waste time," he said during the hearing in Santa Ana.