UPDATE: Justin has more info on Common Sense America. Its board: Ryan T Anderson (more here and here), Patrick Gallagher, Colleen H Payne, Rich Vigilante (is this the same guy? – “writes about sex for fun?”).
Justin McLachlan got his mitts on the National Organization for Marriage’s 2007 form 990, one of the tax returns that have been repeatedly requested by activists and media outlets. The level of secrecy and playing coy by NOM’s Brian Brown has been, to say the least, interesting. It has left people wondering what on earth needs to be hidden? I think everyone wants to know who’s giving what and who is being paid.
The one interesting note is that a group called Common Sense America was paid $166K as a consultant. Its website, at the time this post went live, is under 3000 hits. Also, looking at its domain registration, the name was registered in 2002, but was last updated in March 2007 via Network Solutions. They took care to make the admin contact hidden (link is to full domain info).
Common Sense America, LLC
c/o Network Solutions
P.O. Box 447
Herndon, VA 20172-0447
The site is almost barren of any content, but claims it will feature “monthly commentary”; there is no one listed in the About Us, just an email address. Its self description — “Common Sense America is a conservative/libertarian site. We do not actively support or oppose any particular political party or candidate. Our sole purpose is to address those issues we feel are important to the country’s future.” Oh, and in its Links section, the first site it features is Free Republic:
Free Republic is an online gathering place for independent, grass-roots conservatism on the web. Visit Free Republic for intelligent and topical discussion of world events.
CSA doesn’t have anything on its site about consulting services. So who is behind Common Sense America? You won’t be surprised — take a look at this entry on Politickernj.com, dated January 9, 2008:
Frank Lautenberg, who at age 84 will seek a fifth term as a United States Senator from New Jersey. If he wins, he’d become the oldest and longest-serving Senator in state history. But a sudden retirement could turn New Jersey politics upside-down. Common Sense America Executive Director Brian Brown and Garden State Equality Chairman Steven Goldstein go to battle over a likely vote next year on same sex marriage.
More, from Blue Jersey in a post dated Oct. 31, 2007:
Common Sense America, an anti-gay organization based in Princeton, has been spending hundreds of thousands of dollars targeting Linda Greenstein in the 14th and Jeff Van Drew in 1st legislative districts. The group is run by Brian Brown, who also chairs the National Organization for Marriage, Marriage PAC NJ, and until recently the Connecticut wing of James Dobson’s extremist Focus on the Family organization. Just weeks ago he ran a billboard comparing a pro-equality Massachusetts legislator to Judas and Benedict Arnold.
Wow. So Brian’s the $166K consultant?! ROTFLOL. Justin McLachlan:
That begs the question why NOM is giving lucrative contracts to organizations connected to its executive director, what the state of Common Sense America’s finances are (especially without the NOM contract) and whether any self-dealing is going on. Bottom line, does Common Sense American pay Brown a salary?
…NOM says it paid Common Sense America $166,000 in the section where it has to list its top five contractors paid more than $50,000. But on a more detailed schedule, it said it paid $189,000 for a “consultant.” That difference — $23,000 — could have gone to another contractor that NOM wouldn’t have to list. I just wonder why they say “consultant” instead of “consultants” on the sheet if that total includes two different contractors. They do breakdown the amount they paid their graphic design firm on a separate line.
And I just did a cursory Google search to find this information. I wonder what else lurks in this form for people to find? Have at it.
* Chino Blanco PHB diary
* Right Wing Watch: NOM Skirts IRS Regulations on Disclosure of Tax Returns
* Washington Blade: Lou Chibbaro interviews Brian Brown