An investigation by the US state of Maine’s Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices has suggested that the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage (NOM) has not just breached that state’s political campaign finance laws but potentially two other states’ laws as well.
A report by the commission found NOM had violated state laws during its campaigns against same-sex marriage in Maine, Iowa and New Hampshire and recommended that civil penalties of up to $50,000 be laid against the group and also that its donors be publicly named.
NOM had solicited donations from donors telling them they would remain anonymous.
An as yet unnamed donor was approached by NOM and asked to provide $800,000 to influence a Maine referendum on same-sex marriage and electoral races in Iowa and New Hampshire during 2009.
That donor then provided donations totaling $2.25 million to the group.
Two months earlier the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board had sent an email to NOM president Brian Brown instructing him, ‘If people are going to donate to your organization for express advocacy activities in Iowa and those donations exceed $750 in aggregate in a calendar year, your organization will be required to form a PAC and disclose those contributors.’
‘The independent expenditure process in Iowa is not a vehicle to shield political contributors.’
NOM’s attorney responded to the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board that it had not solicited any specific donations for campaigns in Iowa but the Maine investigation contradicts that claim.
‘NOM’s independent expenditures are being paid for by funds from its general treasury,’ the group claimed in 2009.
‘No funds have been solicited by NOM for Iowa independent expenditures, and no designated contributions have been received for Iowa independent expenditures.’
LGBTI rights group the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) said the revelations seemed to suggest a pattern of dishonest by the group.
‘NOM’s web of deceit seems to grow by the day,’ HRC’s Vice President of Communications Fred Sainz said.
‘Not only did NOM clearly violate Maine law but there are now legitimate questions whether they also broke Iowa law in 2009 and, to top it off, made false statements to a government agency.
‘As we’ve seen time and time again, NOM is willing to play fast and loose with the truth about marriage equality and LGBT Americans while concurrently engaging in a nationwide effort to cover up their activities and then lie to the public and government investigators.’