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02/01/2012

NOM's war on public disclosure: Minnesota For Marriage edition

by Jeremy Hooper

This just in, via HRC:

HRC Urges Minnesota Election Board to Investigate Anti-Gay Group

On heels of Maine decision, MN campaign filings released today show National Organization for Marriage boldly ignoring state law by hiding individual donors

WASHINGTON – The Human Rights Campaign today released an analysis of campaign disclosure reports - made public today in Minnesota - that reveal the National Organization for Marriage has launched an unprecedented effort to avoid disclosing individual donors as required by law. Such secrecy once again reveals
Nationalorganizationformarriage-10 NOM is not a grassroots organization but serves the interest of a handful of wealthy anti-gay donors. HRC urges the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Disclosure Board to investigate NOM’s financial activity around the Minnesota ballot measure.

Reports filed with the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Disclosure Board reveal that marriage equality opponents received only seven individual donations and one donation from a family estate. However, they have raised more than $1.2 million from just three entities: $750,000 contributed by the Minnesota Catholic Conference, $250,000 by the National Organization for Marriage and $226,000 by the Minnesota Family Council.

By contrast, Minnesotans United for All Families, the coalition working to defeat the ballot measure, openly reported contributions from over 5,000 individual donors, 75% of which were from Minnesota.

“NOM has deliberately evaded Minnesota’s public disclosure laws,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “We’ve seen this movie before in plenty of other states. This is part of NOM’s systematic attempt across the country to oppose public disclosure and hide its donors. In Minnesota, they have taken it to a whole new level. We believe that NOM and others may be secretly telling people to contribute to them instead of directly to the campaign so that they can avoid public disclosure. The contrast between seven individuals opposing marriage equality and thousands of pro-equality supporters is quite revealing.”

For months, lawyers for NOM have battled the state over its public disclosure laws. The Minnesota Campaign Finance and Disclosure Board has repeatedly told NOM and its allies that they must provide underlying disclosure by revealing, among other things, individual donors who are solicited to contribute to the ballot measure. Such public disclosure is widely accepted around the country to ensure transparency and accountability, and Minnesota campaign disclosure laws were written to allow voters to track specific funders of ballot campaigns.

Today’s disclosure reports come on the heels of a major court decision yesterday rejecting NOM’s arguments that it should not have to reveal donors solicited for the Maine marriage referendum in 2009. Yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit upheld Maine’s campaign finance disclosure laws from attack by NOM. In 2009, NOM solicited contributions for Amendment 1 but refused to register and report as a ballot question committee as required by Maine law. The Maine Attorney General is currently investigating NOM for violating state law.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

###

To be such a house of cards, NOM sure goes to great lengths to hide its hand. And that's why we must care. Because as with all charades, the key is to listen more to what isn't said than to what is publicly revealed.

*SEE ALSO: The pertinent document:

MN For Marriage 2011 Financial

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