This week and last the president of Virginia-based Public Advocate of the United States, Eugene Delgaudio, sent fundraising emails claiming that he is running ads against marriage equality in Washington state.
What ads? Nobody has reported seeing them, and there is no record in Washington state’s Public Disclosure Commission online database of Eugene Delgaudio or Public Advocate of the United States making contributions or expenditures related to Referendum 74.
To preserve the state’s marriage equality law, voters must approve Referendum 74 on their November ballot.
Since any person or group spending money on a ballot measure in Washington is required by law to register with the Public Disclosure Commission, one of two things seems likely. Either Mr. Delgaudio is lying to his prospective donors about running ads in Washington state, or he is running ads but has failed to file with the Public Disclosure Commission.
Skirting the state’s public disclosure laws, a tactic long-used by National Organization for Marriage, is tantamount to lying to voters about who is and isn’t trying to influence the election.
On Oct 20 Mr. Delgaudio sent a fundriasing email with the subject heading “Homosexual Lobby pullin out all the stops” which stated, in part:
Public Advocate has been fighting for real marriage in Washington State for months now.
In just the past week, Public Advocate supporters raised thousands of dollars to alert Washington voters to the threat facing real marriage in their state.
And now thousands of ads are running in the state exposing the truth.
Similar claims about running ads in Washington state were made in an Oct 27 email with the subject heading “They’re on the run!”. Mr. Delgaudio wrote:
There are four states being faced with the decision between real marriage and homosexual “marriage”: Washington, Maryland, Minnesota and Maine. …
Public Advocate is now running hard-hitting advertisements in all four states, reaching hundreds of thousands of voters every day! …
We are getting the truth out, and it is having a tremendous effect!
In addition, Mr. Delgaudio has been sending fundraising emails since at least Oct. 8 to fund his Battleground Action Initiative which promises, in part, to run banner, radio and TV ads in Washington state. To date, the initiative has raised $45,872, according to the website.
For years Mr. Delgaudio has lied about and denigrated LGBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender) people to elicit donations to his organization. For example, Mr. Delgaudio “blamed ‘the homosexual agenda’ for enhanced-passenger-search procedures at airports so that gay people can feel others up” and claimed that permitting gay Boy Scout leaders is “the same as being an accessory to the rape of hundreds of boys”, the Southern Poverty Law Center reports (pdf).
Last year Mr. Delgaudio went so far as to publish in a fundraising email a disturbing graphic that seemed to depict lethal violence against LGBT people.
Fanning homophobic flames to bilk donors has been a lucrative pursuit for Mr. Delgaudio. Public Advocate of the United States, a not-for-profit 501(c)4 organization, reported $1,071,623 in total revenue on its 2010 tax form, the most recent available. That same year Public Advocate of the United States paid $158,682 to “independent contractor” Eugene Delgaudio & Associates. Public Advocate of the United States and Eugene Delgaudio & Associates share the same address.
For the years 2005 through 2009, Public Advocate of the United States paid Mr. Delgaudio an annual “management” fee totaling over $427,000.
When I called Public Advocate of the United States to ask about the alleged ads, I got a message recorded by Mr. Delgaudio detailing the several ways that I could send money to Public Advocate of the United States.