Tuesday, May 10, 2011

NOM brags about NY finances, but omits questionable history of bad ethics

This just came in from NOM's blog:

The National Organization of Marriage today announced that it is spending $500,000 on a new ad and lobbying campaign to oppose same-sex marriage in New York and will spend $1 million to support Democratic State Legislators who cast their votes to defend the traditional definition of marriage and oppose any Republican Legislators who vote to redefine marriage.

“It’s become quite clear in recent days in New York that Governor Cuomo and same-sex marriage advocates are targeting a select number of Democrat state Senators, as well as some Republicans in their desperate attempt to coerce legislators to support their agenda,” said Brian Brown, President of NOM. “We want to be sure those courageous Democrats and Republicans who cast their vote of conscience in favor of traditional marriage will have a strong supporter if the radical gay activists come after them in their next election.”

I found the following part of the press release to be very interesting in light of how NOM called HRC "bullies" for its role in keeping the law firm King & Spalding from defending DOMA.

NOM pledged to vigorously oppose in their primaries any Republicans who support gay marriage. NOM previously played a leading role in defeating former Representative Dede Scozzafava in her Congressional primary bid. NOM has a long history of defeating Republicans who support same-sex marriage. They led the campaign to defeat Bill Binnie in New Hampshire and Tom Campbell in California US Senate primaries last year, and defeated legislators in Minnesota and New Hampshire who supported same-sex marriage there.

I guess things are different from when you are "bullying for Jesus."

NOM should be advised of the Biblical verse about how "pride goeth before a fall." To wit, this bragging by Brown of NOM's dedication in New York will no doubt raise questions regarding NOM's not-so clean, very questionable history regarding its ethics and its history of trying to sidestep state disclosure laws, which has gone hand-in-hand with NOM's "victories" against marriage equality. It's already happened six times.

A Christian organization fighting for the sanctity of a "noble entity" like marriage shouldn't have such a spotty history. I would like to know just what is NOM hiding.

According to the Minnesota Independent:

When the National Organization for Marriage and the Minnesota Family Council spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on ads promoting a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage and civil unions last fall, the groups should have reported those expenditures, according to a complaint filed with the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board earlier this month. The complaint, which focuses on ads launched throughout the 2010 campaign cycle in support of gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, asks for financial penalties as well as an audit of NOM’s spending in Minnesota.

The filing by Common Cause Minnesota alleges that the Minnesota Family Council — and in particular its lobbyist, Tom Prichard — failed to report lobbying expenses related to several ads. Since the ad urged the public and legislators to act on legislation, in this case a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, it constitutes lobbying, the group argues in the complaint. The ads in question include references to an actual bill, SF120, and were created and distributed in partnership with NOM.

There seems to be a pattern going on here:

  • NOM goes to a state to fight against marriage equality.
  • Their efforts are successful because of their mysterious finances.
  • They leave the community in shambles with neighbors angry at neighbors over their positions.
  • Lastly, questions are raised regarding NOM's questionable tactics regarding mostly finances.

According to the nomexposed.org, this pattern regarding questions raised over NOM's finances is a pattern which took place also in:

NOM remains under investigation by the Maine Ethics Commission for failing to register with the state as a ballot question committee and refusing to disclose the donors to its campaign to overturn Maine’s marriage equality law in 2009.

NOM provided more than $1.8 million of the $3 million spent by opponents of marriage equality to pass Question 1 – but it illegally failed to disclose where the money came from. Public disclosure laws create transparency by informing voters who is behind a campaign effort. Maine’s law does this by requiring that any funds raised to support or oppose a ballot question be made public.

NOM flouted this law, first by soliciting funds from donors to overturn marriage equality in Maine, and then by refusing to disclose the contributions. As a result, NOM deliberately hid from the public almost two-thirds of the total money the Yes on 1 campaign spent to run its deceptive campaign to overturn marriage equality.

Based on an initial complaint filed by Fred Karger of Californians Against Hate, the Maine Ethics Commission launched a formal investigation into NOM’s fundraising tactics in late 2009. NOM has refused to cooperate with the state inquiry each step of the way, stonewalling requests to turn over documents to the Ethics Commission. The Commission’s executive director defended the inquiry in February 2010: “NOM donated almost $2 million in support of the referendum. The Commission needs to understand how NOM solicited the funds in order to determine whether campaign finance reporting was required.” In June 2010, the Ethics Commission unanimously denied NOM’s latest request to dismiss the state investigation into the organization’s finances.

Rhodes Island:
In September 2010, NOM filed suit in Rhode Island seeking to spend thousands of dollars on TV and radio ads for and against gubernatorial and General Assembly candidates – all free from the state’s reporting requirements. NOM is framing the issue as a matter of free speech. In its court filing, NOM says it intends to “engage in multiple forms of speech in Rhode Island” in advance of the November 2 elections, “including radio ads, television ads, direct mail and publicly accessible Internet postings.”

. . . Shortly after NOM filed the suit, a federal judge gave the organization one week to refile – calling the lawsuit “disorganized, vague and poorly constructed.” According to the Boston Globe, the judge said the relevant allegations were “buried” in the lawsuit.

In January 2009, NOM and ProtectMarriage sued the California Secretary of State in federal court to avoid disclosing Prop. 8 donors. California law requires campaign committees to report information for any contributors of $100 or more, which is then made publicly available. Donor disclosure is uniformly required across the country for federal, state and local campaigns and is widely accepted as a vital means to ensure that elections are conducted transparently and fairly.

Rather than follow the decades-old California Public Records Act, NOM suggested that it was entitled to a blanket exemption. NOM falsely claimed that its contributors had been subject to threats, reprisals and harassment. Serious scrutiny of these claims has revealed only isolated incidents, questionable reports and, more often than not, legitimate acts of public criticism typical of any hard-fought campaign.

In Iowa, NOM’s pattern of evading campaign laws prompted a strong written warning from the state ethics agency.

NOM spent a staggering $86,000 in 2009 in a single legislative special election, part of its effort to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would reverse the state Supreme Court’s unanimous decision recognizing marriage equality. NOM asked its supporters to contribute to the Iowa campaign in a nationwide email by saying that “…best of all, NOM has the ability to protect donor identities.”

The email and subsequent complaints prompted a letter from the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Finance Board stating that state law requires disclosure of political contributions solicited for the Iowa campaign. The board’s director and counsel wrote to NOM that he wished to “avoid potential problems in light of questions the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board has received concerning a solicitation statement made by your organization” and warned that the “independent expenditure process in Iowa is not a vehicle to shield political contributors.”

Washington State:
In Washington State, NOM and its allies waged a coordinated legal battle to hide the names of those who signed the petition to qualify Referendum 71, and those who donated to the campaign to eliminate Washington’s domestic partnership benefits. In doing so, NOM lawyers attempted to dismantle the nation’s public disclosure system as it currently exists until the U.S. Supreme Court rejected their claims.

On the same day that NOM’s lawyers sued to overturn Maine’s campaign finance laws, a mysterious group called “Family PAC,” represented by the same lawyers, sought to circumvent Washington’s campaign contribution limits and keep secret the names of donors to the campaign. The lawyers cited false claims of harassment directed at supporters of Prop. 8 in California as justification for hiding their donors.

The judge rejected the NOM lawyers’ claims, stating that, “The State has a real and vital interest in showing the money trail… I do not believe it is in the public interest for the court to intervene and change the rules of the game at the last minute.”

That's six states where NOM has fought against marriage equality and six states where the organization faced serious questions about its ethics and finances. Win or lose, I have a feeling that New York will be state number seven.

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