The National Organization for Marriage played a big role in last year’s people’s veto campaign to overturn Maine’s same-sex marriage law.
Now state election officials will be able to see how they did it.

The organization had refused to file required documents with the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices. The group was particularly reluctant to reveal the names of its donors, claiming they could be victims of harassment if they became public, as had happened in other states. The group also said that the danger of being forced to testify in a court case could create a chilling effect on others who might be asked to make a donation.

Magistrate John Rich III has ruled that they would have to take that chance, because he would not assume before the fact that the names would be misused. That was the right decision. Same-sex marriage in Maine was an issue that drew national attention, and contributions to both sides of the question were raised. This case is not about rehashing the issues of the November referendum or trying to undo in the courtroom what was done at the ballot box. It was NOM that went to court to avoid releasing the names.

Rich’s ruling is not likely the last word on this subject. NOM’s refusal to refuse to file reports with the state led the ethics commission to open an investigation into the group’s actions, and it could continue to fight release of the information.

What is important is establishing that national groups should not be able to come to the state and make their own rules regarding transparency in election campaigns.

If you choose to participate in this Maine campaign, you should abide by Maine’s rules.

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