Gary Randall is on the board of Protect Marriage Washington, the organization behind getting Referendum 71 on the ballot, and the sponsor of the Doe v. Reed challenge to Washington’s Public Records Act now before the United States Supreme Court. Referendum 71 asked voters to approve or reject Washington’s domestic partnership law. Voters approved the law by a vote of 53% to 47%.
Randall put up a blog post on January 16 that makes three very puzzling claims – puzzling because they are easily shown to be ill-founded.
I have become aware that since it was announced that the US Supreme Court will hear our case in the matter of R-71, there are those who are now publishing stories that either claim or suggest that we are somehow trying to circumvent public disclosure laws and are part of a national coalition to do so.
Neither is true. …
We are not addressing any area of financial disclosure.
In summary, what Randall claims they are not doing is:
1. Trying to circumvent public disclosure laws
2. Participating in a national effort to circumvent public disclosure laws
3. Addressing the disclosure of campaign donor information.
1. Trying to circumvent public disclosure laws
The first claim, that Protect Marriage Washington is not trying to circumvent public disclosure laws, is belied by the very complaint they filed with the courts. This is the document that initiated the Doe v. Reed lawsuit. Here is what Protect Marriage Washington asked of the courts:
66. WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs request the following relief:
a. Declare Wash. Rev. Code § 42.56.070 unconstitutional to the extent that it requires the Secretary of State to make the Referendum 71 petition, or any petition related to the definition or [sic] marriage or the rights and responsibilities that should be accorded to same-sex couples, submitted to the Secretary of State’s office available to the public;
b. Enjoin Defendants from making the Referendum 71 petition, or any petition related to the definition or [sic] marriage or the rights and responsibilities that should be accorded to same-sex couples, available to the public pursuant to the Public Records Act, Wash. Rev. Code § 42.56.001 et seq., or otherwise;
c. Grant Plaintiffs John Doe #1, John Doe #2, and Protect Marriage Washington their costs and attorneys fees under 42 U.S.C. Sec 1988 and any other applicable authority; and
d. Any and all other such relief as may be just and equitable.
Clearly, what Protect Marriage Washington is asking the court to do is forbid the Secretary of State from following the law when the subject of a petition is marital or similar rights for gay and lesbian couples. That’s it. They don’t ask for the law to be struck down across the board as unconstitutional, just suspended when they’re in pursuit of their own particular political goals. That certainly smacks of “trying to circumvent public disclosure laws”. Another term for it is “special rights”.2. Participating in a national effort to circumvent public disclosure laws
I posted the images of the complaint above because they help determine the veracity of Randall’s second claim, that Protect Marriage Washington isn’t part of a national effort to circumvent public disclosure laws. Note that the law firm listed as representing Protect Marriage Washington on the Doe v. Reed document is Bopp, Coleson & Bostrum. Bopp is also representing the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), ProtectMarriage – Yes on 8, Family PAC and other organizations dedicated to preventing same-sex marriage in their challenges to
Looking at that lineup, it is difficult to see how Gary Randall can claim that Protect Marriage Washington is not participating in a national effort to circumvent public disclosure laws.
3. Addressing the disclosure of campaign donor information
August 6, 2009 Protect Marriage Washington’s attorney Stephen Pidgeon filed an “emergency request” for a hearing with the Washington Public Disclosure Commission (PDC). Protect Marriage Washington wanted an exemption from the legal requirement to provide the names and addresses of their donors. The PDC granted the hearing, but rejected Protect Marriage Washington’s request to keep the identity of their donors secret.
The commission said Protect Marriage Washington had not proved that disclosure of donors’ names would result in “manifestly unreasonable hardship” to contributors.
While Protect Marriage Washington did provide the commission with some threatening e-mails and blog postings, it “provided no evidence from or about donors that have demonstrated that they have received threats of violence against their lives or property,” or that they were being targeted for boycotts, PDC assistant director Doug Ellis said during the hearing.
Moreover, the commission decided, removing the names would thwart the purpose of the public disclosure law: To avoid secrecy in campaigns.
Contrary to Gary Randall’s claim, Protect Marriage Washington was indeed “addressing [the] area of financial disclosure”.
After the Public Disclosure Commission rejected this request from Protect Marriage Washington, the Family Policy Institute via its Family PAC took up the cause. Represented by the ubiquitous Bopp, Coleson and Bostrum, Family PAC filed suit in federal court, challenging Washington’s laws mandating campaign donor disclosure. Bopp et al. filed the Family PAC complaint on the same day they filed a similar lawsuit in Maine for NOM. Federal District Court Judge Ronald Leighton turned down Family PAC’s initial effort to eviscerate Washington’s voter-approved campaign finance laws, saying “I do not believe there is a real emergency. The constraints imposed upon the plaintiff are self-inflicted.” Family PAC appealed, so the case is ongoing.
Gary Randall’s three claims appear to be ill-founded. Seeing as they were so easy to refute using online public records, it is a puzzle why he would make them. Whatever the answer, it seems clear that public records may at times pose a challenge to his credibility.
Doe v. Reed court documents can be found here.
* Larry Stickney’s bid for Special Rights fails
* NOM and The Family PAC file for special rights on the same day
* Federal judge rebukes Reject 71 but can’t stop wave of Colorado cash
Cross-posted at Washblog.