(AUGUSTA, MAINE) – Californians Against Hate applauds the Federal Court and Justice D. Brock Hornby for its decision yesterday to uphold Maine election law, and ruling in favor of truth and transparency.
The Washington, DC based National Organization for Marriage (NOM) challenged the law while it is under investigation by the Maine Ethics Commission for financial improprieties, reporting violations and money laundering. NOM is the biggest donor by far to Yes on 1, which would ban the recently enacted same-sex marriage law in the Pine Tree state. NOM gave 60% of the $2.6 million raised so far, but wants to keep its contributor’s names secret. Question 1 will be voted on next Tuesday, November 3rd.
“In over 30 years in politics, I have never seen such a blatant disregard for the law as Maggie Gallagher and Brian Brown are doing in Maine,” said Fred Karger, founder of Californians Against Hate. “They are up to their old tricks. They did the same thing in California when their apparent creator, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church) became the target of an investigation by that state’s Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). The FPPC began an unprecedented investigation of the Salt Lake City based Church (Case #08-735), and the National Organization for Marriage nearly one year ago. NOM sued every top election official in California in order to keep the contributors to last year’s Proposition 8 secret as well.”
Californians Against Hate asked the Maine Ethics Commission to investigate NOM in a formal request sent on August 24, 2009. NOM had failed to disclose the names of any of its contributors as required by state law. Fred Karger and political columnist Danielle Truszkovsky testified in support of an investigation at the commission hearing in Augusta on October 1, 2009. The Commission voted to investigate NOM at that meeting. NOM’s reaction: sue Maine.
Assistant Attorney General Phyllis Gardiner represented the Ethics Commission before Justice Hornby stated, "The compelling interest for the public is to know whose spending money to influence their vote. Voters may want to know whether they are being lobbied by people from within or outside Maine.” Gardiner said the lawsuit is the first challenge of the state's requirement for ballot question committees to register and report contributions.
Main state law requires anyone raising or spending more than $5,000 on a ballot question to disclose anyone who contributed more than $100 for that purpose. All other organizations are complying with the law.
"The statute doesn't restrict in any way what they can raise or what they can spend. It doesn't restrict political speech in any way. It's simply about reporting after the fact how much you spent or raised for the purpose of influencing the vote in Maine," Gardiner says.
Violations can lead to fines, and, in the most extreme cases, a small amount of jail time.
Concluded Karger, “NOM was well aware of Maine’s longstanding reporting requirements and election law before it went charging up there to put this referendum on the ballot. From day one they tried to hide the source of their funds, and then sue the state when they got caught. They think that they are above the law, and today we saw that is not true.”