Tuesday, March 11, 2014
The National Organization for Marriage has been accused of failing to comply with campaign finance laws in Washington State, where the group has funded an effort to repeal same sex marriage.
NOM made headlines here in Maine in 2009, when the group provided nearly two-thirds of the funds to the anti-same sex marriage effort here, but refused to disclose where its money came from in violation of Maine law. When the Maine ethics commission opened an investigation, NOM sued them and the state in federal court in an unsuccessful attempt to have Maine law ruled unconstitutional. (Their attorney, who I spoke with for Down East, was James Bopp, most famous for winning the Citizens United case before the U.S. Supreme Court.) NOM still hasn't disclosed their 2009 donors here in Maine.
The situation in Washington appears similar, according to court filings there. The organization hasn't registered as an in-state PAC or ballot question committee, a move that would require it reveal its actual donors.
“NOM has a history of ignoring state finance reporting laws and is still tied up in litigation challenging Maine's disclosure requirements going back to that 2009 marriage battle," a spokesperson for Washington United for Marriage told the Everett, Wash. Herald. "At a minimum, it would certainly serve all voters if the Public Disclosure Commission makes sure everyone is playing by the rules, including NOM and Preserve Marriage Washington.”
"There are a tremendous number of parallels, and this is how they operate in state after state," said Fred Karger, the California-based activist who first brought a complaint against NOM here in Maine, and predicts the organization will be active in the same sex marriage struggle this fall. "I just hope I'm alive when they finally reveal their donors in Maine."Tweet
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John Richardson joined the Press Herald in 1990 after working as a reporter in New Jersey. He has covered a variety of beats, including marine issues, the environment and health care. He is now covering politics and focusing on Maine's U.S. Senate race.
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Colin Woodard has covered politics and elections for more than two decades, from Bosnia and Bucharest to Washington, D.C., Augusta, and Portland City Hall. He has written for a wide range of national and international publications and is the author of four books, including "American Nations," a history of North America's regional cultures. He joined the Portland Press Herald at the end of April and covers political finance and lobbying, among other things.
Colin can be reached at 791-6317 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Susan Cover has covered Maine politics for 10 years and worked in Kansas, Ohio and Rhode Island as a reporter. This year, she is focusing on covering the same-sex marriage debate for MaineToday Media.
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Michael Shepherd joined MaineToday Media in May 2012 after graduating from the University of Maine in Orono, where he edited The Maine Campus, the student newspaper there. Until November he'll be writing the Truth Test, a recurring feature analyzing political statements and advertising.
Michael can be reached at 621-5632 or firstname.lastname@example.org