by Robert Cruickshank
The Courage Campaign’s Rick Jacobs today filed a complaint with the California Fair Political Practices Commission today against Andy Pugno, one of the key figures behind the effort to ban same-sex marriage in California.
The complaint, which is included below as a Scribd embed, alleges that Pugno misused public funds while on the staff of State Senator Pete Knight in the late 1990s to help the campaign to pass the so-called “Knight Initiative” – a California version of the Defense of Marriage Act banning same-sex marriage. This went to voters in November 2000 as Proposition 22 and was approved with 61% of the vote. This was struck down by the California Supreme Court in May 2008, and in turn Pugno and his allies in the leadership of the LDS and Catholic Churches put Prop 8 on the ballot to change the state constitution to ban marriage. The evidence suggests that not only was Pugno involved with those institutions involved in the planning and management of Prop 8 as we learned at the trial, but that their collaboration goes back into the late 1990s and may have violated state law.
Pugno is of course the general counsel to ProtectMarriage.com, and a candidate for the Republican nomination for the 5th District State Assembly seat. He is a key figure in the campaign strategy used for both Prop 22 and Prop 8, and for the legal defense of Prop 8 in both the California Supreme Court and in Judge Vaughn Walker’s federal courtroom. As longtime Trial Trackers know, Pugno also played a key role in trying get this website shut down by suing Courage Campaign over the logo we use at this site.
Here’s what led to the filing of the complaint. On Wednesday investigative reporter Robert Salladay published an article on Pugno’s involvement in the Prop 22 campaign while on the payroll of the California State Senate. Specifically, it was alleged that Pugno used public resources of the State Senate – phones, faxes, stationery – to vet the proposed initiative with Mormon leaders. Salladay included a letter Pugno wrote on February 26, 1998 to BYU law professor Lynn Wardle. The letter was on California State Senate letterhead and asked Wardle to review proposed ballot language with an eye toward ensuring it could pass at the ballot box. It was also reported that Pugno may have used public funds to travel to Arizona for a “strategic consultation” meeting with LDS leaders that same year.
That appears to be in violation of the Political Reform Act, which governs issues such as this. In fact, Salladay’s article quoted FPPC staff on this very point:
As for Pugno using Senate letterhead for a political issue – and asking Wardle to use the government fax machine and phone lines – the law is fairly strict. One regulation does allow for “incidental” campaign use, but Roman Porter, executive director of the state Fair Political Practices Commission, said about cases like this in general: “The use of public funds for campaign purposes is unlawful.”
Based on the letter and the other evidence reported, Rick Jacobs filed the official complaint against Pugno with the FPPC. He also wrote to Attorney General Jerry Brown seeking an investigation (see that letter here) and to the Secretary of the Senate, Greg Schmidt, seeking public disclosure of various documents related to Pugno’s campaign work while on the staff of Senator Knight (see that letter here).
Here’s what Rick Jacobs had to say about the filing:
The new and troubling disclosures appear to demonstrate willful disrespect for the laws and rules governing the conduct of public servants. If he broke California law, how can he expect to be elected to office to make California law? Andy Pugno needs to be investigated and any appropriate consequences levied for his actions.
We will keep you posted on what happens with the FPPC complaint and other requests for investigation and public disclosure we have filed.
by Robert Cruickshank
During the fall of 2008 – and again in 2009 in Maine – the forces behind Proposition 8 ran a very slick and clever campaign that emphasized “protecting marriage” and “protecting children.” They deliberately left it unclear just what was being protected against, assuming that voters would know to fill in the blanks. Prop 8 backers did a good job of keeping a tight lid on their own true beliefs, making their own position seem less discriminatory and less radical than it actually is.
That all changed this morning in the trial courtroom, as explosive Yes on 8 campaign videos and documents were introduced into evidence. One of the videos was of a campaign rally from 2008 paid for and simulcast by ProtectMarriage.com that shows what they really believe. As reported to us by Yusef Robb of the American Foundation for Equal Rights and shown at the trial today, the video included the following stunning quotes:
“Then pedophiles would have to be allowed to marry 6-7-8 year olds. The man from Massachusetts who petitioned to marry his horse after marriage was instituted in Massachusetts. He’d have to be allowed to do so. Mothers and sons, sisters and brothers, any, any combination would have to be allowed.”
Of course, no such marriages were allowed in Massachusetts, or any other state where same-sex marriage is legal.
“Second of all, the polygamists are waiting in the wings because if a man can marry a man and a woman can marry a woman based on the fact that you have the right to marry whoever you want to marry, then the polygamists are going to use that exact same argument and they’re probably going to win.”
Opponents of marriage equality love to raise this example, even though it is not what is at issue here. It’s an example of what is often called “moving the goalposts” – shifting the ground from a discussion they might lose (“should same-sex couples be allowed to marry?”) to one they feel they might win, even though it isn’t actually what is at issue. No serious and credible organization supporting same-sex marriage has expressed support for polygamy. This is farcical at best.
“We are seeing the people of Massachusetts being desensitized day by day concerning homosexuality and becoming more and more adjusted to the idea of homosexual marriage being the law of the land and the homosexual agenda becoming more and more of a powerful element in the life of our society.”
Here we see very clearly that to Prop 8 backers, this isn’t about marriage at all. It’s about whether homosexuality is accepted by the public and by the law. They believe that legal recognition of same-sex marriage would make it harder to discriminate against LGBT Americans. This quote is indicative of what Prop 8 was really all about.
“I think a helpful way to think about this is to compare it to 9/11 because a lot of us are asking: How does this directly affect us? Well I wasn’t directly affected by 9/11 and my guess is most of you weren’t either in the sense I didn’t know somebody who crashed the plane in the building. I didn’t know somebody who was in the building. But after 9/11 the world was a fundamentally different place and that has affected me. The change in the redefinition of marriage is the same type of thing.”
Can you imagine the public reaction if Californians had known in the fall of 2008 that Prop 8 backers compared marriage equality to the murder of over 3,000 innocent people on that September morning in 2001? Such an outrageous and offensive statement would have caused major damage to the Yes on 8 forces and showed how callous and radical they truly are. When Democrats mistakenly used footage that included the old World Trade Center towers in an ad for Martha Coakley just days before the Massachusetts Senate election, it was seen as a major gaffe that helped ensure Coakley lost the race. Who knows what would have happened had the public known this was being said at a rally paid for and simulcast by the Prop 8 backers?
Rick Jacobs took a moment from his trial liveblogging to offer these comments on the video and quotes:
“This morning’s evidence made the Prop 8 side’s strategy crystal clear — use fear and lies to promote hate. It is horrifying that Prop 8 proponents would compare marriage equality to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and imply that marriage equality will open the door to pedophilia, incest and bestiality.”
“Ron Prentice, Andrew Pugno and their Prop 8 team — with the highly capable and apparently deeply cynical leadership of Frank Schubert — created a permanent campaign to scare voters into believing that same-sex marriage would threaten children, undermine America and lead to every form of illicit behavior imaginable.”
“This evidence is not just a smoking gun. It was an arsenal of incendiary devices directed at the LGBT community and voters. This is how the Prop 8 side won — through fear and lies.”
“Finally, this morning we saw indisputable, documented evidence in the form of emails and videos that Ron Prentice and Protect Marriage coordinated closely and relied upon the Catholic Church, the LDS Church, the Family Research Council, Maggie Gallagher, Brian Brown and the National Organization for Marriage to get Prop. 8 on the ballot and to win through a campaign of lies.”
“Last week, the Supreme Court erased decades of precedent by ruling that corporations have the same rights as people when it comes to speech. Let’s hope that the court will as readily see that LGBT people have at least the same rights as corporations and surely the same rights as other people.”
Looking at these quotes, it’s no wonder why Protect Marriage fought so hard to keep this trial as hidden away from the public as possible. The truth is revealing. The truth is explosive. The truth shows that far from “protecting” families and children, the primary goal of Prop 8 backers was to impose their radical views of society on us, and discriminate against LGBT people in California and across the nation.
By guest poster Laura Kanter, a Deputy Field Organizer for the Courage Campaign
Perhaps it is because I’m Jewish, a Lesbian, married to a Black woman and living in Orange County that I am so highly attuned to the propaganda generated by the proponents of prop 8. Maybe there is something in my historical memory that insists that I be hyper-alert to dangerous rhetoric, given the knowledge that for centuries, propaganda has been used to stigmatize, marginalize, oppress, violate, and annihilate people like my wife and me. Like so many others, I was looking forward to watching the trial broadcast on YouTube because I knew that people would finally get to see for themselves the bigotry and lies that were at the heart of prop 8; they would get to see the testimonies of Kristin Perry & Sandra Stier, and Paul Katami & Jeffrey Zarrillo. Surely this would move many hearts and minds, regardless of the verdict.
When the media started paying attention to the battle over whether or not the trial would be broadcast, I noticed the comments coming from the defense. We know they didn’t want people to hear and see the testimonies; broadcasting the trial would prevent them from spinning the facts and might allow a reasonable public to hear the truth and identify with the very sympathetic plaintiffs. But with their spin, the propaganda began. Once again, they were attempting to control the public perception of gays and lesbians. There they were on the major news networks, talking about risking the safety of their clients and their clients’ families, and about needing to protect “the children.” This is the same propaganda that was used to dehumanize Blacks here in America and abroad, and Jews (and LGBTs), in nazi Germany. The rhetoric makes us into predators who pray on children and angry, out-of-control monsters who will destroy civilization.
I used to think that any reasonable person could see that the assertions made by the proponents of prop 8 were based in fear and hatred and were simply ridiculous. Sadly, however, as day 8 witness William Tam, so acutely demonstrated, people often accept what they are told as long as it fits into their cognitive schema. In many ways, the very extreme Dr. Tam is the quintessential American right wing voter. Or, as Brian Leubitz described him in another Trial Tracker blog post, “… that Cute Ignorant Uncle That Everybody Cringes At.” During his testimony, Tam indicated that he believed that in the Netherlands, the legalization of same sex marriage was followed by the legalization of polygamy and incest. (I commented that Dr. Tam got his data from wikipedophelia.) When asked where he got this information, he replied that someone found it on the internet, showed it to him and he believed it. This is exactly why prop 8 passed and how groups like Tam’s, Protect Marriage, and Alliance Defense Media get away with lie after lie after lie.
The ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court not to broadcast the trial was devastating. We were so hopeful that finally the scare quotes and lies generated by the anti-LGBT movement would be brought to light. Sadly, we were again denied the support of our government and left to fend for ourselves. At least this was nothing new.
Fortunately, by 8:31 a.m. on the very first day, a new way to bear witness to the trial emerged on twitter and then through the Courage Campaign Trial Tracker.
When I first started following the tweets, I noticed that the tweet lists that people had created did not include any of the prop 8 proponents. Once I started seeing the tweets, especially those coming from the Alliance Defense Fund (@ADFMedia) and Protect Marriage (@protectmarriage), I added them to my list and made it my personal mission to at least try to bring attention to their lies and hold them accountable for their words. Thus my obsession takes hold.
Using a tweet list , I started “tweet tracking” (say that three times fast) the comments from the prop 8 proponents to see how they aligned with what the other tweeters were saying. I don’t think we have had many opportunities to see spin spun on the spot like this and it was both fascinating and at the same time maddening. Its not like I hadn’t heard all this propaganda before; it was just so blatantly not what was going on in the courtroom. (more…)