Tuesday, Jun 25, 2019
 
search SGN
SERVING SEATTLE AND THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST FOR 36 YEARS!

click to visit advertiser's website


Javascript DHTML Drop Down Menu Powered by dhtml-menu-builder.com

Last Weeks Edition
   
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
 

 

Speakeasy Speed Test

 
 
click to go to advertisers website
 
Maine will scrutinize anti-gay groups
Section One
ALL STORIES
  next story
Maine will scrutinize anti-gay groups

By Lisa Keen - Keen News Service

October 1, 2009 -- The Maine campaign ethics committee voted 3 to 2 this morning to launch a formal investigation into the funding of an anti-gay ballot initiative in that state this year.

The vote rejected a recommendation, from the staff of the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices, that it not investigate the campaign funding practices of the anti-gay Stand for Marriage Maine group. Stand for Marriage Maine is spearheading support for a ballot measure in November to overturn a newly passed law to provide same-sex couples with the same rights to marriage licenses and benefits as it does to straight couples. That staff recommendation, issued September 29, said "staff does not recommend an investigation of Stand for Marriage Maine PAC or its contributors." Its largest contributor, thus far, has been the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), a group that was instrumental in funding the anti-gay Proposition 8 initiative in California.

California gay activist Fred Karger, founder of Californians Against Hate, requested the investigation. Karger's group, founded just last year, studied public records to identify businesses and individuals who contributed to the anti-gay campaign in California. While doing similar work from public records in Maine, Karger told the commission he believes NOM and Stand for Marriage Maine are deliberately violating state campaign finance disclosure requirements.

Two Democrats and one Republican on the commission agreed, voting for an investigation. One Republican and one unaffiliated member, Chairman Michael Freidman of Bangor, voted against.

"I'm very pleased," said Karger, in a phone interview following the vote. "The commission showed great courage today in agreeing to going ahead and launching an investigation."

Scott Fish, a spokesperson for Stand for Marriage Maine, declined to answer any specific questions concerning the commission's vote, including whether he thinks it will have any impact on voters November 3. He referred a voter to a statement issued by the organization following the hearing. The statement, attributed to Marc Mutty, chairman of Stand for Marriage Maine, says the group is in compliance with state law and called the investigation an "abuse of power."

"It is yet another example of the harassment that follows supporters of traditional marriage," said Mutty. "&It is an abuse of power for the Commission to have allowed itself to be used as an instrument of politics in this fashion."

The No on 1/Protect Maine Equality had nothing to say about the commission vote. Spokesperson Mark Sullivan repeatedly answered all questions for reaction with statements clearly meant to distance the organization from the allegations against Stand for Marriage Maine and its supporters.

"We are not involved in any way shape or form," said Sullivan. Asked whether the investigation might nevertheless influence voters, he said only, "We have nothing to do with the complaint and don't have any opinion about it one way or the other."

No on 1 and Stand for Marriage both issued statements early in the campaign promising to conduct polite, respectful, and honest campaigns. Jonathan Wayne, executive director of the commission, said he believes the commission's directive now is to investigate only NOM; however, he said he would be consulting further with commission members in the coming weeks to get a more definitive answer.

Such investigations, said Wayne, typically take several months and, therefore, a report on its findings will likely be issued long after the voting takes place. If the group or groups investigated are found to be in violation of state campaign finance disclosure laws, he said, the commission can either issue a statement announcing the violation or assess civil penalties.

Karger said that, because of the commission's vote, the commission now has subpoena power, if needed, to obtain records from the organizations backing Ballot Measure Number 1.

During Thursday's hearing, Karger told the commission that NOM has sent out at least 16 emails that "mention Maine and directly ask for money." He said the group also tells contributors that their identities will be kept private.

"They're definitely trying to go around the Maine election law," said Karger.

But Brian Brown, head of NOM, said his organization knows and follows state law closely. He also rebutted claims that NOM has been delinquent in filing and making public its 990 forms -Internal Revenue Service forms that require the reporting of money raised and spent by tax-exempt organizations. The organization's 990 forms are now available on NOM's website at www.nationformarriage.org.

During the hearing, which was streamed live on the commission's website, commission chairman Michael Friedman, who has no political party affiliation, said national political party committees frequently contribute large sums of money to campaigns in Maine without disclosing individual donor names. He said he did not believe Karger presented sufficient evidence to suggest that NOM or Stand for Marriage Maine were doing anything different from that.

But commission member André Duchette, a Democrat, said he was "troubled by the slippery slope where these entities can kind of circumvent the true intent of what our laws seek to uncover."

According to state campaign finance reports filed thus far, Stand for Marriage Maine has raised more than $343,000, only $400 of which came from individuals. The greatest bulk of money --$160,000 (47 percent)-has come from NOM. Another $152,000 (44 percent) has come from the Roman Catholic Church and $31,000 from the state chapter of Focus on the Family.

By comparison, the key group working against the referendum - "No on 1: Protect Maine Equality"-has raised $143,290 -76 percent of which ($108,290) has come from individuals. ($25,000 came from the Human Rights Campaign and $10,000 from the ACLU.)

The next financial disclosure report is due October 15.

© 2009 Keen News Service

Tell a friend:

Share on Facebook  Share on Facebook

Post to MySpace!Share on MySpace!

    Share on Delicious

Share on StumbleUpon!

New HIV vaccine trials promising
------------------------------
Fight to approve Ref. 71 ramping up to fever pitch
------------------------------
GSBA lunch brings Seattle candidates to center stage
------------------------------
Washington, D.C. and the Equality March
------------------------------
Serbian Pride Parade cancelled, anti-Gay demos flop
------------------------------
SGN INTERVIEW - Eagle, Gay bar, raided in Atlanta
------------------------------
Charles 'Chuck' Lazenby, 1930-2009
------------------------------
Tour de Life: Stubborn hands
------------------------------
SGN exclusive interview: Port Commission candidate Max Vekich
------------------------------
ENDA gets House committee hearing
------------------------------
Campaign to undo Prop 8 in 2010 kicks off, activists meet in San Diego
------------------------------
MIT students' Facebook 'Gaydar' surprisingly accurate
------------------------------
AFL-CIO - American labor movement calls for full inclusion of LGBT workers
------------------------------
Gay supervisor to run for San Francisco mayor
------------------------------
Bill Clinton: 'I Was Wrong' About Gay Marriage
------------------------------

------------------------------
BREAKING NEWS
------------------------------
House bill favored in health reform debate
------------------------------
Activists staged a kiss-in to combat homophobia on Saturday in Forum des Halles, an underground shopping center in Paris. The action lasted approximately 5 minutes.
------------------------------
Approve Referendum71 - Protect all Couples
------------------------------
Prop 8 repeal initiative filed
------------------------------
Prop 8 déjà vu in Maine
------------------------------
Federal Court Throws Out Suit Against Miami Hospital By Lesbian Barred From Dying Partner
------------------------------
Rare Source of Attack on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'
------------------------------
Out lesbian Jenny Durkan has been confirmed by the Senate to become U.S. attorney for the Western District of Washington.
------------------------------
Maine will scrutinize anti-gay groups
------------------------------
Catania: Gay Marriage Bill Will Debut Tuesday
------------------------------
Marriage Bill introduced in State Senate
------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

click to visit advertiser's website

click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
Seattle Gay Blog post your own information on
the Seattle Gay Blog
 

 

http://sgn.org/rss.xml | what is RSS? | Add to Google use Google to set up your RSS feed
SGN Calendar For Mobile Phones http://sgn.org/rssCalendarMobile.xml
SGN Calendar http://sgn.org/rssCalendar.xml
copyright Seattle Gay News - DigitalTeamWorks 2009

USA Gay News American News American Gay News USA American Gay News United States American Lesbian News USA American Lesbian News United States USA News