NOM gets cold shoulder from Supremes, money-laundering case continuesTop Highlights, Breaking News Monday, October 1st, 2012
The United States Supreme Court again declined to review the National Organization for Marriage’s (NOM’s) challenge to campaign finance laws of Maine, letting continue an investigation by that state’s Ethics Commission and its attorney general into money laundering charges brought by longtime Republican presidential consultant, LGBT rights activist and founder of Californians Against Hate, Fred Karger.
NOM v. McKee, which has now been rejected by the Supreme Court, came about as a result of Karger’s 2009 complaint that NOM had promised and delivered on that promise to hide the names of donors in a campaign mailer against Question 1 (Q1), which would have let stand Maine‘s equal-access marriage law.
NOM and other marriage–equality opponents narrowly defeated Q1, and thereby took away the right to marry from same-sex couples in Maine. Karger said the promise to not disclose the names of donors to defeat marriage equality amounted to money laundering.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, Karger’s 2009 complaint launched an investigation by the Maine Ethics Commission in response to NOM’s failure to disclose donors to its Maine ballot measure efforts. NOM spent $1.9 million in 2009 to narrowly defeat Question 1 and rescind the marriage equality law that had been passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor. During that time NOM expressly solicited contributions to support the Maine campaign but refused to report these donors, as required by state law. As the Attorney General stated in its Supreme Court brief, “NOM is a sophisticated national political advocacy organization … seeking to prevent Maine citizens from learning who is trying to influence their vote on ballot questions.”
Campaign disclosure laws enjoy broad public support across the spectrum and are critical in a time when spending on elections has hit record levels. For all of the criticism of Citizens United, a less recognized part of the decision upheld disclosure requirements as vital to ensuring transparency. Even Justice Scalia, in responding to another NOM-affiliated case in 2010 (Doe v. Reed), wrote that “I do not look forward to a society which … campaigns anonymously and even exercises the direct democracy of initiative and referendum hidden from public scrutiny and protected from the accountability of criticism.”
The Court supported that view by rejecting once again NOM’s crusade for secrecy. As a result, Maine’s investigation will continue, and anti-LGBT organizations such as NOM will be required to play by the same election rules that others do.
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