During the summer of 2009, the hate group National Organization for Marriage (NOM), started pouring money into its campaign in Maine to repeal the just passed law legalizing gay marriage. Déjà vu I thought. NOM had qualified and then passed Proposition 8 in my home state of California in 2008. Now one year later, we knew exactly how they operate.
NOM's early $160,000 contribution during the summer of 2009 to Stand for Marriage Maine raised a red flag. Where was the list of NOM's donors as required by Maine election law?
I thought I smelled a rat. Turns out six years later I was correct. NOM repeatedly broke Maine's election law, and its president Brian Brown lied about it all the way up to the United States Supreme Court.
Mormon Church Set Up NOM
NOM was a brand new organization in summer of 2008 during the heat of the Prop 8 campaign. After a lot of research, we put the pieces of the puzzle together. It turns out that NOM was formed to qualify and pass Prop 8 by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church) with help from some prominent Catholics. The Wall Street Journal broke the story.
This is just what they had done in Hawaii in 1995 and dozens of other states since, trying to qualify and pass Constitutional Amendments to ban gay marriage.
NOM was just their latest front group in their 15 year battle, and it was a pretty smart way to operate. The Mormon and Catholic coalition proved to be highly successful in over 30 states with one big caveat; you must obey all election laws and if you don't, don't get caught.
Brian Brown, NOM's Executive Director and ringleader of its California and Maine campaigns got caught.
NOM Never Filed as a PAC in Maine
Maine election law states that any outside group which raises or spends over $5,000 is considered a ballot question committee and must register as a PAC and file campaign finance reports. The first $160,000 that NOM contributed to the Maine campaign definitely required them to file as a PAC. When I brought this to the attention of the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices in a letter on August 21, 2009 I was asked to file a formal complaint with the Ethics Commission. When the Commission agreed to hear my complaint on October 1, 2009 I flew from my home in California to Augusta, Maine to testify.
NOM Accused of Money Laundering for not Reporting its Donors
NOM hired an army of high-priced lawyers to fight my charges of money laundering before the Ethics Commission. NOM's was represented by famed attorney James Bopp, who had just filed the Citizens United case the year before. NOM even posted two years of delinquent tax returns the night before the Commission hearing, which I had been haranguing them over with the IRS for nearly a year.
For a while it looked like NOM might prevail in scuttling an investigation and would be able to keep the identity of its donor's secret. But after much testimony and a surprise eleventh hour witness who flew up from Florida, Danielle Truszkovsky, the Ethics Commission voted 3-2 to investigate NOM on my charges of money laundering.
Six Year Saga Begins
NOM threatened to sue the state of Maine at the October 1st hearing, and true to form they did. NOM filed both federal and state lawsuits to try and invalidate Maine's longstanding election law. NOM spent millions out of its treasury over the next nearly six years doing so.
After numerous trials, hearings, depositions, Ethics Commission meetings, the forced release of NOM's secret campaign documents by a federal judge and even an attempted subpoena of me in a federal lawsuit to try and scare me away, NOM lost all its appeals. That was because of the incredible work done by the Maine Ethics Commission, headed by Jonathan Wayne and its staff, along with the spectacular legal team in the Maine Attorney General's Office headed up by Assistant Attorney General's Phyllis Gardiner and Thomas Knowlton. Their success made Maine's election law even stronger, as it was put to test after test in court after court.
Brian Brown's Repeated Lies
Now nearly six years later we know the truth. Brian Brown lied in his testimony before the Maine Ethics Commission, lied in his sworn and notarized affidavit, lied in both depositions, lied repeatedly in media interviews and lied on NOM's blog. He knew that he was breaking the election law in Maine from day one, but he didn't care. All he wanted to do was to win at any cost.
We'll never know if the outcome of the November 3, 2009 election would have been different if the voters in Maine knew that NOM had only five out-of-state-donors giving the nearly $2 million it spent to take away marriage rights from tens of thousands of Maine residents.
Here are the donors that NOM and its attorneys were so desperately trying to protect for six years! CLICK HERE
NOM Under Investigation in 4 Other States
Besides Maine, other state and federal ethics' investigations against NOM that we're responsible for are in: Iowa, Hawaii, California (2012), California (2014) and the two year Federal Election Commission (FEC) investigation of NOM, presidential candidate Rick Santorum and Iowa's Bob Vander Plaats for alleged money laundering leading up to the 2012 Iowa Caucus. The FEC investigation is still pending.
NOM Under Criminal Investigation in California
The California State Attorney General's office announced a criminal investigation of NOM for its roll in trying to qualify a referendum in California in 2014. Attorney General Kamala Harris' office did so recently in a letter to former California Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-SF).
Sacramento County District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert had to recuse herself from a criminal investigation of NOM because of an ongoing state investigation by the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) into NOM and her brother, Frank Schubert, NOM's political Director. District Attorney Schubert punted to the AG's office who took up the case.
Under California election law, if a committee like the one NOM sponsored violated state election laws with "intent," it could well be a criminal offense and NOM leaders could face even stiffer penalties.
How are all the Legal Bills Paid?
How does Brian Brown pay the millions of dollars in NOM legal bills to defend them against government charges of fraud and money laundering? NOM appears to use tax-deductible money given to its many 501(c)3 charities, i.e. National Organization for Marriage Educational Fund, NOM Legal Defense Fund, DOMA Legal Defense Fund, ActRight Legal Foundation, ActRight Action and many others.
It's hard to imagine that the billionaires and millionaires that foot the bill for NOM want their money squandered away like that. Maybe that's why NOM's donor base is shrinking and any respectable businessperson is avoiding NOM like the plague because of all its legal problems from Maine to Hawaii.
Time to Bring Charges Against Brian Brown?
A week ago we celebrated a great victory for truth and transparency in elections. We at Rights Equal Rights will explore all state and federal avenues to make NOM and Brian Brown responsible for all their lies and illegal activities. While good has triumphed over evil in in Maine, no one should make a mockery of our election laws, least of all NOM head Brian Brown.