June 8, 2010
By Julia Rosen
The Mormon Church worked very hard during the Prop 8 campaign to conceal the major role they were playing in the ballot initiatives’ passage. They do not like a lot of attention. The trouble is they went too far and broke campaign finance law.
Back during the campaign they spent a lot of staff time and church resources advocating for Prop 8. Under state law you have to account for the value of that support and report it under campaign disclosure rules. It is what’s known as “in-kind contributions”, but reporting that would have made obvious how much they were doing to help organize all of the field activities and increase fundraising, so they simply didn’t.
But then Fred Karger came along and exposed what they were doing and they filed a late disclosure of their in-kind contributions. Now, a year and a half later the California Fair Political Practices Committee is fining the LDS Church. From HRC’s Back Story blog:
The California Fair Political Practices Committee (FPPC) has proposed a fine [pdf] of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) for failing to report all of its late non-monetary contributions in its efforts to pass Proposition 8 in California in 2008. While the recommended fine of just more than $5,500 for the unreported late contributions of $36,968 to the Yes on 8 campaign may seem inconsequential, it represents a pattern of blatant disregard for California election laws and provides ongoing evidence that the Mormon Church was a significant leader in the campaign to repeal marriage equality, even while it evaded standard reporting requirements and denied its involvement.
The FPPC is notorious for taking for….ev….er to fine violators of the law. This is essentially a slap on the wrist to the LDS Church, but it ought to serve as a deterrent to pull something like this again. Given what transpired the last campaign, it will be difficult for anyone to hide the work they are doing to oppose equality.
Speaking of not disclosing anti-equality donation information… did you see that NOM just lost another court battle today over their attempts to hide their donors to defeat Question 1 in Maine last fall? They’ve vowed to take it to the Supreme Court, but as of now the stay is lifted and they are supposed to be turning over the names/amounts of those who gave them money to defeat Question 1. I for one can’t wait to see who all is in there. There has to be something juicy, or else they wouldn’t have gone to all of this trouble to break the law and then defend their law breaking.