The biggest contributor to the group trying to overturn Maine’s gay marriage law is suing the state over its campaign reporting requirements.
The state ethics commission voted Oct. 1 to take a closer look at contributions by the National Organization for Marriage after it was accused of circumventing Maine law by not reporting the names of many donors. The group responded with a constitutional challenge filed Wednesday in federal court in Bangor.
Interesting timing, because also on this day in Washington, an unregistered political action committee called The Family PAC has done the same thing.
A political action committee opposed to Washington state’s expanded partnerships for gay couples has sued in federal court, arguing it should be exempt from the state’s campaign finance laws.
The Family PAC filed a lawsuit late Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Tacoma. The group has not yet registered with the state’s Public Disclosure Commission. It wants the court to allow it to accept contributions of more than $5,000, and to be exempt from having to report donor’s names.
Truly amazing timing. I’m sure they’re not at all related.
Update: The people behind The Family PAC have been identified. According to The Seatte Times it’s none other than The Family Policy Institute of Washington, the local Focus on the Family affiliate run by the guy who wants straight senior domestic partners to take one on the chin for good of the theocracy, Joseph Backholm.
A Lynnwood-based organization that opposes the state’s domestic partnership law and is working to defeat Referendum 71 has filed suit in U.S. District Court in Tacoma seeking to circumvent campaign contribution limits of $5,000 and to keep secret the names of those who make smaller donations. …
The attorney for the Family Policy Institute of Washington, which filed the lawsuit through its newly formed Family PAC late Wednesday, acknowledged that there are substantial contributions in the offing that the campaign wants to accept but can’t because of the limits.
Dominic at SLOG elaborates
So now that the large contribution deadline has passed for everyone else, Backholm’s affiliate of Focus on the Family wants the state to change the rules-so they can flood a bigoted campaign with money-because bigots deserve special rights. Family Policy Institute of Washington (which claims Referendum 71 “threatens every citizen’s freedom to disagree” and says that “discrimination is not only appropriate, it is necessary for survival”) is the same group that poured $200,000 into the Vote Reject R-71 in the final days before the cutoff for large contributions. But they obviously have more. A few days before the deadline, Dave Mortenson, a conservative campaign consultant who filed the PAC funded by FPIW, said, “A bunch of individuals contacted me to see if we could raise some money really quick.” He said, “I am not going to share who I’ve been talking to, but if we do get the money, we will report it.” Are those religious groups, corporations, wealthy donors, I asked? “We are working them all,” Mortenson said. He wouldn’t tell me who those groups were then. And now, if the bigots get their way to keep donations secret, we’ll never know.
If they must, the state’s public disclosure commission should challenge this case all the way to the Supreme Court. The Special Rights for Bigots campaign is already going to D.C. to keep petition signers’ names sealed (and I hope that the Supremes only accepted the case to settle the issue on the side of transparency). A state court already decided that donors’ names must remain public. But this new federal case should languish in the court a while; regardless of the outcome, litigation will eat up every day before the election, so they’ll never be able to spend their bigot bucks.