Wednesday, December 11, 2013
AUGUSTA — The National Organization for Marriage, which contributed nearly $2 million to help repeal the legalization of gay marriage in Maine in 2009, continues to fight Maine's campaign-finance disclosure laws in state and federal courts.
The group plans to donate to this year's gay-marriage campaign in Maine as well, and has teamed up with the Christian Civic League of Maine to form the Protect Maine Marriage political action committee.
In court filings, the group has argued that Maine's campaign finance laws are unconstitutional because they are too vague. The U.S. 1st Court of Appeals ruled against the National Organization for Marriage earlier this year, but the group has until May 22 to ask the U.S. Supreme Court for a review.
In state proceedings, there is a June 6 deadline for additional briefs, according to the Maine Attorney General's Office.
The issue arose in August 2009 when Fred Karger, an activist from California, asked Maine's ethics commission to investigate the National Organization for Marriage to determine whether it was asking donors to give money to help defeat gay marriage in Maine.
The organization said at the time, and in court filings, that it donated money from its general fund, which was not state-specific. Neither Brian Brown, executive director of the organization, nor the group's attorney, James Bopp Jr., returned calls seeking comment.
Maine law requires groups that spend or raise more than $5,000 to influence an election to register with the state as ballot question committees.
The National Organization for Marriage did not file as a separate committee in 2009, and has argued that it does not want to disclose its donor list because in other states, donors have been harassed because of their involvement.
The state has argued that voters have a right to know who's paying to influence their votes.
Last month, documents unsealed in the federal case showed that during the 2009 campaign, the National Organization for Marriage wanted to drive a wedge between gays and blacks as part of its campaign strategy.
State House Writer Susan Cover can be contacted at 620-7015 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org