Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Maine Supreme Court: NOM Must Reveal Donors

NOM president Brian Brown
The National Organization for Marriage ("NOM") has gone to great lengths in the form of lawsuits in its attempt to hide the identities of donors to its 2009 Maine referendum campaign to reverse that state’s marriage equality law which raised $2 million.  NOM has claimed continued anonymity is crucial to protect its donors from "harassment or economic reprisals by supporters of gay marriage" and also claimed that the organization’s fund-raising efforts would suffer if donor identities have to be revealed.  Many, however, suspect that NOM's real fear may be that revealing donor identities will reveal that NOM has only a handful of big donors and is not a "grass roots" organization as constantly claimed.  Moreover, the names of some of these donors could cause major repercussions to organizations like the Catholic Church and its front organizations. Now, the Maine Supreme Court has ordered that the donor names need to be revealed.  Here are details from the Portland Press Herald: 
The National Organization for Marriage has lost another round in its attempt to hide the identities of donors to a successful 2009 referendum campaign to reverse Maine’s marriage equality law.
The Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Tuesday refused NOM’s request for a stay, which would enable the organization to delay complying with a state ethics board ruling that it must file a report identifying the sources of the $2 million it gave to the referendum drive.
NOM has mounted a relentless legal battle to conceal the names of its donors, saying that they could be subjected to harassment or economic reprisals by supporters of gay marriage, and that the organization’s fund-raising efforts would suffer.
The Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices last year imposed a $50,250 fine on NOM, the nation’s largest organization opposed to gay marriage, because it failed to register as a ballot question committee or file campaign activity and donor disclosure reports.
In April, the Maine Superior Court upheld the ethics commission decision to fine NOM and its requirement that the group list its donors. . . . has not filed a campaign finance report containing the names of the donors to the 2009 campaign.
Wayne said the ruling by the state’s highest court means that NOM should file a campaign finance report. Additionally, he said, the court also indicated in its ruling that the organization wouldn’t likely win its appeal.
[T]he ruling stated “The circumstances underlying the Commission’s decision occurred almost six years ago, and the decision has successfully withstood federal and state court challenges during that time. NOM now asks us to decide many of the same issues and has failed to sufficiently show that it has a likelihood of succeeding on the merits. Accordingly, we deny NOM’s motion for a stay pending appeal.” The ethics investigation cited bank statements and campaign literature to show that the organization used its nonprofit status to draw donations earmarked for the Maine referendum – a violation of Maine election law.

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