EQCA & Courage Campaign Join Manchester Hotels Boycott

September 21, 2009

Doug Manchester, the wealthy hotel owner who donated $125,000 in critical seed money to put Prop. 8 on the ballot, has launched a cynical public relations campaign by trying to buy off EQCA with a $25,000 donation.

We said no to Doug Manchester. Will you join us?

Launched in the summer of 2008 by Californians Against Hate and Cleve Jones, the highly successful boycott is believed to have cost Manchester’s Grand Hyatt more than $7 million in lost business.

To keep putting pressure on Doug Manchester, EQCA and the Courage Campaign are launching the new “Say No To Manchester” web site along with UNITE HERE and Californians Against Hate.

Join the boycott by adding your name to the pledge.
http://www.SayNoToManchester.com/Pledge

By signing, you will urge Doug Manchester to make a public apology for his $125,000 donation to Prop. 8 and negotiate an honest, fair resolution with boycott organizers.

Please, sign up today and pledge your support.

In solidarity,
Geoff KorsExecutive DirectorEquality California

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Gay GOPer has star role in same-sex marriage fight

Gay GOPer has star role in same-sex marriage fight

Published 09/17/2009
by Matthew S. Bajko
m.bajko@ebar.com

LINK TO STORY

A sought after Republican campaign adviser for three decades beginning in the 1970s, Fred Karger called it quits and retired nearly five and half years ago. During his time working to elect GOP politicians, such as former state senator and then-California Governor George Deukmejian, Karger remained in the closet.

After leaving the political world, he split his time between homes in Los Angeles and Laguna Beach. He probably would have stayed silent about his being gay had his idle seaside lifestyle not wore thin.

But Karger became restless and his political instincts called out to be put to use.
“I was a closeted political aide for decades,” said Karger, 59, who considers himself a moderate Republican and worked for The Dolphin Group, whose clients have included Presidents Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and the senior George Bush.

In a twist of fate that would propel Karger to break his silence and thrust him into the media spotlight, it was the threat of losing a famed Southern California gay bar that would forever change his life.

Back in 2006 a developer bought the building housing the Boom Boom Room, which for 60 years had operated out of a hotel nestled above Laguna Beach’s coastline. Shocked at losing an LGBT institution, Karger launched a campaign to save the gay bar. In the process, he came out publicly, first in the local Laguna Beach paper and then in a cover profile in the Los Angeles Times’ Sunday magazine.

“I wasn’t taken seriously at first with the Save the Boom campaign. Then right before the L.A. Times piece came out we won a reprieve,” said Karger, referring to the developer’s decision to put off his plans for a year. [The club shuttered last year after its lease expired, but activists are still pushing to see it reopen since the building has yet to be demolished.] “It was this huge profile with 12 photos of me, one even ran on the cover. Then everyone knew I was gay. It was a major hurdle for me.”
His newfound activist role didn’t end there. Last year Karger was astounded to read how much money anti-gay groups pushing Proposition 8, the voter-approved same-sex marriage ban, were able to raise in San Diego, a place he knew well from his political campaign work.

“It was surprising because it is not a socially conservative place,” said Karger, who was especially irked to see hotel mogul Doug Manchester “gloating” about donating $125,000 to help put Prop 8 on the ballot.

Another quote in the news article also struck a chord with Karger.
“This one guy said we should boycott these businesses supporting the anti-gay groups,” recalled Karger.

Fred Karger founded Californians Against Hate: Photo courtesy of Fred Karger
Inspired, Karger founded Californians Against Hate, a 501(c)4 organization, and set out to do just that; he led a successful boycott of Manchester’s hotels that continues to this day. Knowing how to draw a media crowd, he chose to launch the boycott the Friday of San Diego’s Pride weekend and invited parade grand marshals Cleve Jones, founder of the AIDS Quilt, and Gilbert Baker , creator of the rainbow flag, to speak.

“My bottom line is you have to change people’s opinions. You got to think big,” said Karger, who donated $2,500 of his own money to the No on 8 efforts. “Our target is straight women throughout the country. We have gay people with us, and straight men are not as likely to be with us. But straight women are more likely to be with us.”

He then set his sights on the donor rolls for the Yes on 8 campaign, listing them on his Web site and creating more media attention. And he worked in tandem with Equality California, alerting the statewide LGBT group and lead coordinator of the No on 8 fight.

“I told them I would not raise a dime so as not to compete against the No on 8 campaign. We will be the watchdog group and follow the money,” said Karger, who has been closely monitoring the money anti-gay groups are raising to overturn Maine’s pro-same-sex marriage law. “We would list donors who gave $5,000 or over to Yes on 8.”

EQCA Executive Director Geoff Kors called Karger “a great partner and colleague” whose work has been beneficial to the fight for marriage equality.

“He has been successful in highlighting to a lot of people that the community is not going to support any businesses who believe we should be denied the same rights everyone else has,” said Kors.
In the process Karger has morphed into the main nemesis of the Alliance Defense Fund, an anti-gay group that has provided legal counsel to campaigns in numerous states against LGBT rights, and the National Organization for Marriage, a group helping to finance anti-gay ballot fights across the country.

He also helped expose the involvement of the Church of Jesus Chris of Latter-day Saints in last year’s No on 8 fight. The church insisted it did not financially support the campaign, and ProtectMarriage.com, the group behind the Yes on 8 effort, unsuccessfully tried to conceal its final donor report this January to hide the Mormon money it received.

“I never thought of the Mormon donations until the end of the campaign and the reports came out and I discovered the Mormon money given to Yes on 8,” said Karger. “Once you start communicating outside your church membership, it is reportable.”

ProtectMarriage.com is now suing California in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California in Sacramento in a bid to throw out the state’s campaign contributions disclosure laws. The Alliance Defense Fund is representing the anti-gay group in the lawsuit and is working with Indiana-based attorney James Bopp Jr. and his firm.

The lawyers for the anti-gay side just won a victory in Washington state when a federal judge ruled the backers of a voter-referendum aimed at repealing a newly enacted domestic partnership law did not have to identify who signed the petitions to put Referendum 71 on the ballot.
Timothy D. Chandler, an attorney with the Folsom, California-based Alliance Defense Fund, did not respond to a call seeking comment for this article.

Chandler has subpoenaed Karger to appear at an October 13 deposition in the California case. He is seeking documents and records on Karger’s various Web sites about the boycotts he launched and his Californians Against Hate group. He is also seeking documents on how Karger obtained the donor records of those supporting Prop 8, who he disseminated that information to, and the financial records for Karger’s nonprofit, which as a 501(c)4 does not have to report its donors if it does not raise or spend more than $25,000 a year.

“They are trying to intimidate me and silence me. To harass me, they called me as a witness, now I have to get lawyers and be prepared,” said Karger, who does not draw any salary from the nonprofit group he founded. “The Mormons are trying to use it to deflect attention away from them. It’s a publicity stunt.”

As for the lawsuit, Karger said, “I don’t think they have a snowball’s chance in hell of getting it through. There is no reason to throw out this law.”

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Fred Karger Subpoenaed by NOM

Daily Journal



Sep. 15, 2009



Prop. 8 Supporters Subpoena Activist Who Revealed Contributors

By Matthew Pordum Daily Journal Staff Writer



SACRAMENTO In its continuing efforts to protect the identity of those who bankrolled the campaign to pass Proposition 8, lawyers for The National Organization for Marriage have issued a subpoena for one of the leaders behind the opposition, Californians Against Hate founder Fred Karger, who led boycotts and created websites outing top contributors.

The subpoena compels Karger to produce the group’s financial records and all communications and documentation regarding affiliated websites and the dissemination of donor information. It also directs him to appear for a deposition on October 13th.

“This is harassment and they are trying to silence me,” said Karger, who points out that he’s not a party to the case. “I’m a citizen activist, and my organization is just me, funded entirely by myself versus the power of a group who has millions and millions of dollars behind it.”

The subpoena, served over the Labor Day weekend, stems from a lawsuit filed in federal court in Sacramento in January by The National Organization for Marriage against California Secretary of State Debra Bowen, Attorney General Jerry Brown and FPPC Chairman Ross Johnson. ProtectMarriage.com v. Debra Bowen, 09-0058.

The group referred a reporter to its lawyer, Illinois-based James Bopp Jr. of Bopp, Coleson & Bostrom. Bopp did not return several calls seeking comment.

According to court records, the group is challenging the constitutionality of campaign finance disclosure requirements, claiming donors to Proposition 8 have been ravaged by e-mails, phone calls, postcards and even death threats.

In the suit, Bopp claims that the requirements of California’s Political Reform Act of 1974 are unconstitutional by virtue of the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

Karger’s website, californiansag.wpengine.com, currently lists the names, addresses and donation amounts for the top 12 contributors to the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign, under the heading “Dishonor Roll.”



The Yes on 8 campaign raised nearly $30 million and won the ballot battle over gay marriage last November by a vote of 52 percent.

Karger contends the subpoena is simply an act of revenge for the complaints he filed with the Fair Political Practices Commission against the Mormon Church for its alleged failure to report non-monetary contributions to the Yes on 8 campaign.

“This is all part of the PR [public relations] offensive being carried out by the Mormon Church,” Karger said.

The Utah-based church did not directly donate to the campaign, but its members provided millions of dollars to it.

The Mormon Church is not a party to the January lawsuit.

California Attorney General Jerry Brown is defending the political reform act, arguing in court that disclosure requirements assist the state in detecting efforts to hide the identities of large donors and illegal spending of political funds for personal use.

“Political democracy demands open debate, including prompt disclosure of the identities of campaign donors,” Brown said in a prepared statement.

The most recent action in the case came on Jan. 28, when U.S. Eastern District Judge Morrison C. England Jr. turned down the Yes on 8 group’s request for a preliminary injunction exempting the group from campaign disclosure laws, saying that he was not persuaded that the threats were serious enough.

The group’s subsequent report, made public Feb. 2, included its first disclosure of “major donors” who had given more than $10,000 to the campaign since June 30, 2008.

The Sacramento case is not the only effort by anti-gay rights groups to roll back campaign finance disclosure laws.

Bopp filed suit against the Washington Secretary of State July 28 to prevent the state from releasing the names and addresses of more than 138,500 Washington citizens who signed a petition in favor of Referendum 71.

The ballot referendum asks voters in Washington this November whether they want to expand domestic partnership rights and obligations in the state’s originally limited domestic partnership legislation.

Washington Governor Christine Gregoire signed off on an expansion of rights for domestic partners in May, but opponents of that move rounded up 137,689 signatures to have the issue brought to voters this year.

In an enormous win for the group, a federal district judge ruled on Thursday that Washington officials were not allowed to reveal the names of those who signed the petition.

matthew_pordum@dailyjournal.com

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From Blogger Chino Blanco

The video speaks for itself: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubZQ5TgFRac

My very first post on the Prop 8 issue was back on June 27th of last year: It was an invitation to Mormons to show up and walk out when the Prop 8 call-to-arms from LDS church authorities began to be read.

It is so gratifying to finally watch a faithful Mormon taking such a stand at church. Please help post this video far and wide. This is what courage looks like.Cheers! Jason–

www.ChinoBlanco.com

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News About Californians Against Hate ‘Round the World

CAH News Coverage #25

Washington Post

Associated Press – Maine Ethics Investigation

San Diego Union-Tribune – Manchester Divorce

San Diego Union-Tribune – Kiss-In

Salt Lake Tribune — Maine

Kennebec Journal – Investigation

Towleroad

Huffington Post

Edge – Boston

Strollerby

Latter-Day Chino

Death and Taxes

Lavender Newswire

Cyclizen – Politics on Wheels

Gay Agenda

2015Place.com

Conservative Babylon

Susan’s Soapbox

Pam’s House Blend

Mike Tidmus

On Top Magazine

2015Place.com – Stand for Marriage PAC

Dr. Feed

Democrat Underground

GLT – Kiss-in

Silobreaker

Southern Voice

Washington Blade

On Top Magazine – Iowa

America Blog

Mormon Times

Edge Boston

Maine Public Broadcasting Network

WBZ TV — CBS

Mike Tidmus

Boston Globe

Gay Marriage Watch

Seacoastonline.com

Gayapolis

On Top Magazine – Maine

Democratic Underground

2015 Place

Queerty

Gayapolis

Lavender News Wire

Pink Banana

Americablog

Pink Banana #2

BilgrimageMike Tidmus – Brian Brown

Justin McLauchlan

Edge – Iowa and Maine

The Coastal Packet

Mike Tidmus – NOM 990

The Advocate – Maine Complaint

Towleroad

Queerty

The Advocate – Manchester Boycott

Pam’s House Blend – Maine

This is America with Jon Elliott — San Diego

Bay Windows Media

Box Tuttle Bulletin

Diana’s Little Conner

Media Matters

Q Notes

The NLGJA Blog

Town Hall – by Maggie Gallagher

Lavender Newswire

People Chronicle

Queerty

Joe My God

Mike Tidmus – Maggie Gallagher

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Equality California Supports Protest of State Bar Annual Meeting at Manchester Hyatt

Equality California Supports Protest of State Bar Annual Meeting at Manchester Hyatt

San Francisco – Today, Equality California (EQCA) joined the Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom (BALIF), bar associations around the state as well as Unite Here Local 30 in protest of the California State Bar Association’s decision to hold its annual meeting at the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Diego this weekend. EQCA sent a letter to the State Bar several months ago requesting that they move the conference and has also declined an offer of money from Manchester to call off the boycott.
“One of the primary roles of the State Bar is to provide greater access to the justice system for all people,” said Geoff Kors, Executive Director of EQCA. “How can they in good faith patronize a company whose owner has worked so hard to take away the fundamental rights of one group of people as guaranteed by the California Constitution? If you are a champion of equality, you should not be a guest of Doug Manchester.”
Doug Manchester’s donation of $125,000 made him one of the single largest individual donors to the Proposition 8 campaign, which stripped same-sex couples of the fundamental freedom to marry and resulted in a radical, unprecedented change to the California Constitution.
The coalition protesting the annual meeting questions the State Bar’s ability to uphold its pledge to foster diversity while at the same time supporting Manchester’s hotel. In addition, the Manchester Hyatt has been accused of repeated labor violations. In 2006, housekeepers protested working conditions in the hotel, specifically workload demands that far exceed acceptable industry standards.
Equality California (EQCA) is the largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender-rights advocacy organization in California. In the past decade, EQCA has strategically moved California from a state with extremely limited legal protections for LGBT individuals to a state with some of the most comprehensive civil-rights protections in the nation. EQCA has passed over 50 pieces of legislation and continues to advance equality through legislative advocacy, public education and community empowerment.

www.eqca.org
-30-

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The Gathering Storm Against NOM

POOR BRIAN BROWN

It has not been a good week for him and his Mormon front group, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM).

With two more states (Maine and Iowa) considering investigations of his organization for improper reporting of campaign contributions and money laundering, plus the on-going ten month investigation by the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC Case #08-735), Brian went on the offensive on Friday and sent out the email below to all his supporters and the media.

We are happy to see that Brian has responded to our complaint by trying to stop NOM’s money laundering in Maine. In our August 26, 2009 complaint letter and request for an investigation to the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices, we cited many pieces of evidence to back our money laundering claims by NOM.

In numerous emails after Prop 8, Brian wrote to his supporters instructing them to give their money directly to NOM, so that their names would be kept secret and not included in campaign reports. Brown repeatedly made statements in his emails such as:

“And unlike in California, every dollar you give to NOM’s Northeast Action Plan today is private, with no risk of harassment from gay marriage protestors.”

“Donations to NOM are not tax-deductible and they are NOT public information, either.”

“Your gift is confidential: no public disclosure!”

NOM Stops Money Laundering?

Now that the Maine Ethics Commission will be considering an investigation of NOM on October 1st, poor Brian had to change his money pitch. Now he says in the 3rd paragraph of his email of Friday, September 4th:

“Money is going to be critical to getting the message out; the campaign needs to make ad buys this week, so if you can possibly spare just $10 or $100 this week, do not give it to me — go to StandforMarriageMaine.com and fight back!”

Better late than never, Brian.

Your supporters must identify themselves when they contribute $50 or more to Stand for Marriage Maine. They cannot launder it through your NOM. That is what we suspect happened with the $250,000 that NOM contributed to Stand for Marriage Maine several weeks ago.

Whoops, the Money Still Goes to NOM!

However, there is one problem with your new approach. In your email pitch for Stand for Marriage Maine, the donate button directs donors to give money to NOM! We tested it out, and a friend gave the minimum amount and put it on his credit card. Sure enough, the contribution went directly to NOM.

Was this done by mistake? Will you disclose all of the contributors’ names of $50 or more to NOM from September 4, 2009 forward to Maine election officials? We certainly hope so.

And we hope that for the remaining 2 months until Election Day, the National Organization for Marriage and your friends, the Diocese of Portland, the Knights of Columbus of Washington, DC, and James Dobson’s Focus on the Family will fully comply with all Maine election laws. These laws are in place so that voters know who is contributing to their elections before they vote.

FPPC Investigating NOM & Mormon (LDS) Church

I was also particularly interested in your email’s rebuff of another charge that is currently being investigated by the California Fair Political Practices Commission.

You stated that, “The LDS church is not responsible for NOM’s formation, and NOM has never received any promise of assistance from Salt Lake. Salt Lake is not responsible for NOM’s activities and the continued press suggestions are unfair to the the LDS church leadership and to Mormons in America generally.”

Sounds kind of ambiguous to me. What do you mean by “promise of assistance?”

The Mormon Church does not deny its involvement in the Northeast, but its name does not appear on any of the campaign reports.

NPR reported last week that Frank Schubert, who ran the Prop 8 campaign in California last year for the Mormon Church, has come to Maine to do the same thing.

Schubert said, “The reality is that this is a national campaign. People around the country and internationally are looking at what’s going to happen in Maine. Both sides are doing what they can to marshal support wherever they can find support. It will be a pitched battle.”

Come on, the Mormon Church is not running and supporting NOM today?

How Do You Spell F-R-O-N-T G-R-O-U-P?

It’s just your boss, Maggie Gallagher and you doing all that you are doing in 11 states across the country to ban same-sex marriage? You two really must be super-human. And you do all of this work in a little one room office in Washington, DC with no support staff?

We assumed that the Mormon Church and its renowned Public Affairs Committee in Salt Lake City were making all of your slick TV and radio commercials, doing your polling, fund-raising, web sites, direct mail, robo-calling, direct connects, research and strategy and hiring and working with lobbyists just as they have done in California and many of the other states that have banned same-sex marriage.

Washington Post Story

Saw the nice profile of you in the Washington Post on August 28th. It described you as a new kinder – gentler anti-gay leader. Well, that sure sparked an uproar. It seems that lots of people who know you and all that you have done to fight marriage equality across this country don’t agree. So the Post’s Ombudsman, Andrew Alexander wrote a story entitled, “Sanity and a Smile and an Outpouring of Rage.” It’s great reading. If you haven’t seen it yet, CLICK HERE.

Transparency

Brian, let’s see your 990 for 2008? And while you’re at it, let’s see your amended 990 for 2007. We requested both 990s in person and by certified mail to your Princeton, New Jersey office way back in early March. Someone signed the U.S. Post Office receipt on March 25th, but you have refused to send us your filings for your first two years in business.

A blogger finally found your amended 990 return for 2007, and it was interesting reading. I particularly like the $166,000 that NOM gave to Common Sense America (CSA). We see that you are its Chairman and that you share your tiny Princeton, NJ office with CSA.

You got $57,000 for 6 months work from NOM in 2007 according the report. That’s pretty good money, plus the $166,000 = $223,000 from June through December 2007? That’s more than President Obama makes in 6 months!

Conclusion

Brian, let’s be honest and abide by both federal and state reporting laws. And please, show us who is giving you all those millions.

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Mormons Booted Out of Guyana & Maine?

A group of forty Mormon missionaries have been expelled from the South American Republic of Guyana:

GEORGETOWN, Guyana – Authorities in Guyana grew “uncomfortable” with the presence of Mormon missionaries who have been ordered to leave the South American country, a governing party leader said Thursday.

About 40 missionaries were briefly detained Wednesday and told to leave within a month as authorities said their travel documents were out of date.

+++

“While we tolerate all religions, it appears that some officials had become uncomfortable with them around,” said [Donald] Ramotar, the [ruling] party’s general secretary.

Ramotar declined to elaborate. But some government officials and party members said privately that leaders felt the Mormons were too close to opposition figures and also were wary of the church’s independent charity work in the interior.

The government of the South American nation is reportedly “uneasy” about “perceived links” between the Mormon missionaries and the country’s opposition party.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/32681635/ns/world_news-world_faith/

The Guyanese expulsion gives the impression that the Mormons are not limiting their political involvement to domestic state-level campaigns against same-sex marriage.

Frank Schubert, who helped the Mormons — and others — pass Prop 8 to eliminate the right of same-sex, California couples to marry last year, is now running the campaign against marriage equality in the State of Maine. Schubert told National Public Radio the Mormon Church will not be involved in the campaign to eliminate marriage equality in Maine.
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=112513826

Responding to Schubert’s announcement, Fred Karger, founder of Californians Against Hate, said, “It was interested to see that Frank Schubert who bragged about all the Mormons did to pass Prop 8 in California now doesn’t want all their money and help in Maine. I wonder if that is really true?”

Recent statements, by a spokesperson for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in a Washington Post article imply the Maine campaign might still be an issue in which the church has an active interest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/28/AR2009052803573.html

A spokeswoman in Salt Lake City declined to say whether the church is involved in debates going on in states such as New Jersey and New York, except to say that leaders remain intent on preserving the “divine institution” of marriage between man and woman. The faith holds that traditional marriage “transcends this world” and is necessary for “the fullness of joy in the next life.”

According to Karger, “It sounds like the Mormon Church is still involved in Maine to me.”

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Maine Ethics Commission Hits Hard on Opponents of Same-Sex Marriage

Maine Ethics Commission Hits Hard on Opponents of Same-Sex Marriage

AUGUSTA, MAINE — Jonathan Wayne, Executive Director of State of Maine Commission of Governmental Ethics and Elections Practices, sent a strongly worded four page letter to Stand for Marriage Maine PAC (SFMMP) and the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), seeking more information on the charges of “money laundering” against them in their campaign to repeal Maine’s same-sex marriage law.

The letter sent to Joseph Keaney, Stand for Marriage Maine PAC’s Treasurer and Brian Brown, NOM’s Executive Director, called upon both organizations to respond in writing by September 17, 2009 “…concerning whether the Commission should conduct an investigation.”

Click on the line below to view complete letter from Mr. Wayne and other documents pertaining to the charge of money laundering:

Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices

In his letter, Mr. Wayne sites section 1004-A(3), the provision of the Maine Election Law, which states; “It is illegal for a PAC to knowingly accept a contribution made by one person in the name of another person.”

“That is exactly what we feel happened in the very first campaign report filed by SFMMP on July 15, 2009,” said Fred Karger, who filed the formal complaint and request for investigation with the Commission last week. “The four organizational donors (National Organization for Marriage ($160,000), Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland ($100,000), Knights of Columbus — Washington, DC ($50,000) and James Dobson’s Focus on the Family ($31,000), gave 99.999% of the money raised to Stand for Marriage Maine PAC. They circumvented Maine’s campaign reporting law to avoid disclosure of the true contributors.”

The Ethics Commission will consider the request for an investigation filed by Fred Karger, founder of Californians Against Hate at its meeting on Thursday, October 1, 2009 at 9:00 am in Augusta. The Commissioners will decide at that meeting whether to conduct an investigation regarding the compliance issues brought up in Karger’s complaint letter.

Californians Against Hate is the new political watchdog for the LGBT community, and closely monitors all who oppose our civil rights. Individuals and organizations who give millions of dollars to deny LGBT full equality will be held accountable.

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Money Laundering Complaint Filed in Maine Gay Marrige Election

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 26, 2009
CONTACT:
Fred Karger 619-592-2008

Formal Request for Investigation of Money Laundering Filed in Maine Gay Marriage Election

AUGUSTA, MAINE — Fred Karger, founder of Californians Against Hate, an LGBT watchdog group, sent a letter detailing alleged election law violations by Stand for Marriage Maine to the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices. The request for an immediate investigation was sent yesterday to the Jonathan Wayne, the Commission’s Executive Director and a copy to attorney General Janet Mills.

The nine page complaint (below) and fourteen attachments spell out how the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, Knights of Columbus of Washington, DC and James Dobson’s Focus on the Family had contributors give the money to their organizations, and then they in turn gave the money to the Stand for Marriage Maine in order to hide the identity of the donors.

Letters and emails from NOM Executive Director Brian Brown were included where he stated:

“And unlike in California, every dollar you give to NOM’s Northeast Action Plan today is private, with no risk of harassment from gay marriage protestors.”

“Donations to NOM are not tax-deductible and they are NOT public information, either.”

“Your gift is confidential: no public disclosure!

Marc Mutty, Executive Committee member of the Stand for Marriage campaign on leave from the Diocese of Portland admitted in the Sun Journal that, “Political Funds Came From Donor.”

“It’s money laundering plain and simple,” said Karger, who successfully sought a similar investigation with the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC Case # 08/735) of the Mormon Church for vastly underreporting it’s non-monetary contributions to Proposition 8. The FPPC investigation of the Mormon Church is entering its tenth month.

“We feel that we made a very compelling case in our complaint, and are asking the Ethics Commission to consider our request at their next regularly scheduled meeting on September 8, 2009. This blatant disregard for Maine’s election law needs to be investigated. There is no way that only 0.001% ($400) of the $393,000 raised by Stand for Marriage Maine came from individuals.” “The Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints (Mormon Church) created the National Organization for Marriage specifically to qualify and pass Prop 8 in California. Now they have NOM doing their bidding in Maine, Iowa and all over the Northeast,” concluded Karger.

FULL LETTER TEXT BELOW

August 24, 2009

Mr. Jonathan Wayne
Executive Director
State of Maine Commission on Governmental
Ethics and Elections Practices
135 State House Station
Augusta, Maine 04333-0135

Re: Request for Investigation of Stand for Marriage Maine

Dear Mr. Wayne:

I received your letter of August 14, 2009 in response to my letter of August 13, 2009.

You asked me to provide more detailed information on why I believe the four funders of Stand for Marriage Maine are merely conduits for those wishing to hide their contributions.

These entities are laundering money to evade the disclosure of the actual contributors to Stand for Marriage Maine.

By way of background, I have been a political consultant and corporate public relations executive for more than 30 years. I am very familiar with political campaigns, campaign finance and reporting. I have managed or had a major role in dozens of local, state and national campaigns throughout the United States.

In reviewing the Stand for Marriage Maine first quarterly filing of July 15, 2009, I noted that only 0.001% ($400.00) of the $343,689.50 raised came from individuals. The balance of $343,289.50 came from religious organizations and Focus on the Family.

By way of comparison, last year, the Protect Marriage, Yes on Proposition 8 campaign in California disclosed more than 60,000 individual contributors of $100 and above. Thousands more contributed under that amount to repeal same-sex marriage in that state.

During the qualification period in California, 1,492 individuals contributed at least $100 to put Prop 8 on the ballot. Granted, California is a much larger state, and the qualification period was longer. But even taking that into account, only four individual contributors to Maine’s effort to stop same-sex marriage seems highly unusual.

Led by the National Organization for Marriage, a federal law suit was filed in early January of this year against the California Attorney General, Secretary of State and all five member of the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC).to try to remove donor names from the Secretary of State’s web site. The lawsuit asked the court to relieve them and “all similarly situated persons” from having to meet the state’s campaign disclosure requirements for donors.

The judge refused their request. What they wanted to do in California is precisely what they are now doing in Maine- hiding the identities of contributors to Stand for Marriage Maine.

The four organizational donors that gave to Stand for Marriage Maine, with the possible exception of Focus on the Family, circumvented Maine’s campaign reporting law to avoid disclosure of the true contributors.

National Organization for Marriage (NOM)
$160,000 to Stand for Marriage Maine

I have tracked this two year old organization practically from the day it was formed in May 2007. It was created to qualify Proposition 8 for the ballot in California. It raised and spent over $2 million to do so.

In California, it appears that NOM reported all of its contributors. NOM merely acted as a pass through organization. It raised big money to qualify Prop 8, and then, either paid the professional signature gathering firm directly, or gave the money it raised to Protect Marriage (another California Yes on 8 committee).

NOM was very successful in its fund-raising. It received 141 contributions during the Prop 8 qualification period between January 1 and May 31, 2008. It raised well over $1 million during those five months. The average contribution was $7,607. In Maine, the average contribution to Stand for Marriage Maine was $34,368.00 from a total of ten donors.

As the largest donor to Stand for Marriage Maine, with a seat (Brian Brown) on its five member Executive Committee, NOM is, without doubt, likely going back to its past major contributors. Likely donors include Terry Caster, who gave $293,000 to NOM, and $400,000 to Protect Marriage, John Templeton of Philadelphia, who gave $550,000 to NOM and $550,000 to Protect Marriage. The Knights of Columbus even gave NOM $250,000 in early money on February 4, 2008. It was the largest contributor to Prop 8, giving a total of $1,425,000. Or conceivably NOM’s money is coming directly from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church).

Mormon Church Created NOM

We have closely tracked the money that was raised to pass Proposition 8 in California last year. Californians Against Hate was the first to uncover the vast involvement by the Mormon Church. After much research, we discovered that Mormon Church members gave approximately 75% of the $40 million that was raised to pass Prop 8.

By virtue of their significant financial investment in Prop 8, the Mormon Church took over every aspect of the campaign. It produced and used Church members in all of the television commercials, did all of the direct mail, and organized precinct walking every Saturday from August 16th though Election Day. They ran a speakers bureau, phone banks, web sites and brought in thousands of Church members for the final “surge to victory,” the weekend before the election. We now know that all of this activity was directed from Salt Lake City, with several high ranking Church leaders traveling regularly to California.

On November 13, 2008, just nine days after the election, we filled a complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC), your counterpart in California. Our complaint alleged that the Mormon Church had spent far more than the $2,200 it reported in non-monetary contributions.

We submitted evidence supporting our claim that the Mormon Church ran out-of-state phone banks, produced 27 slick commercials (that ranged from 30 seconds to 8 minutes long) and put them up on the elaborate web site the church created for all to see on PreservingMarriage.org. We also asked the Commission to investigate costs incurred by the Mormon Church to bus people from Utah to California to engage in precinct walking, for direct mail and numerous other activities.

The FPPC announced that it had launched an unprecedented investigation into the Mormon Church (Case # 08/735) as a result of our complaint. On January 30, 2009, the Mormon Church filed a report (long past the date when it was due) showing an additional $190,000 in non-monetary contributions. When we filed our complaint with the FPPC immediately following the election, the Church attacked me and stated that it had spent “zero dollars on Prop 8.”

In February of this year, we received hundreds of purportedly “secret” Mormon documents showing exactly how involved the Mormon Church has been throughout the country in fighting same-sex marriage. The documents reveal how the Church established “front groups” in states to wage the electoral battles, and shield the Church from negative publicity.

After reviewing all the documents, we filed a supplemental complaint with the FPPC on March 19, 2009. We alleged that the Mormon Church established the National Organization for Marriage in May 2007 for the express purpose of qualifying Proposition 8 for the California ballot. This was done in conjunction with leading Catholic organizations such as the Knights of Columbus, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops as well as James Dobson’s Focus on the Family.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been the leading voice against gay marriage in this country since 1988. This was done at the request of, and under the direction of then Church President, Gordon B. Hinckley. The Mormon Church appears to have played some role in all 30 state elections where gay marriage has been banned in this country. Now, Maine is the Church’s latest target in their mission to stop same sex-marriage.

The Mormon Church does not deny its involvement in the Northeast. When asked in a May 29, 2009 Washington Post story about its activities in the Northeast, a Church spokeswoman declined comment, but said that Church leaders remain intent on preserving the “divine institution” of marriage between a man and a woman. “The faith holds that traditional marriage transcends this world and is necessary for the fullness of joy in the next life.”

On our web site Mormongate.com, we describe the formation of NOM by the President and the 12 Apostles of the Mormon Church.

In reviewing official Mormon documents, one can see exactly how the Church operated in Hawaii to skirt Hawaii’s election laws. The Church funneled money through Hawaii’s Future Today, which the Church created to fund and manage that state’s campaign to ban same-sex marriage. In Hawaii as in California, the Mormon Church worked hand in hand with the Catholic Church.

The Church’s pattern of establishing front groups, demonstrates how the Church established NOM. The purpose of the organization is to shield the Church’s active involvement in paying for and running the campaigns. By qualifying Maine’s referendum for the November 2009 ballot, the Church is participating in its 31st state campaign.

In press releases and direct mail, NOM has attempted to portray itself as the “victim”. Attached to this letter is a sampling of emails and letters from NOM Executive Director Brian Brown.
Mr. Brown makes statements like, “And unlike in California, every dollar you give to NOM’s Northeast Action Plan today is private, with no risk of harassment from gay marriage protestors.” Or “Donations to NOM are not tax-deductible and they are NOT public information, either.” Or “Your gift is confidential: no public disclosure!

Clearly, NOM is telling its donors to contribute to NOM and avoid disclosure. In doing so, NOM is clearly violating Maine’s law.

NOM Active Around the Country

The National Organization for Marriage has become the most visible leader in opposing same-sex marriage throughout the United Sates. This year, it has surfaced to run campaigns against same-sex marriage in New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Iowa and Washington, DC.

Last week, NOM filed an independent expenditure report, signed by Brian Brown, with the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board, that it spent $86,000 to buy television and radio ads supporting Iowa anti-gay marriage candidate Stephen Burgmeier.
Several months ago, NOM admitted to having spent more than $6 million in states where same-sex marriage was before state legislatures. NOM aired slick television and radio commercials, produced millions of pieces of direct mail, conducted robo-calls, direct connects, and hired lobbyists, among other activities NOM produced and spent $1.5 million to air the infamous “Gathering Storm” television commercial in the Northeast. Incidentally, the commercial must have been made by the Mormon Church, because 10 of the 13 actors in that commercial have been positively identified as Mormon Church members. See Chino Blanco’s findings.

Finally, the National Organization for Marriage has violated federal reporting laws. It has steadfastly refused to release its IRS Form 990s despite repeated requests from several organizations, including ours and the news media. National Organization for Marriage, Inc. was formed in 2007 as a nonprofit corporation, exempt from taxation under section 501(c)4 of the Internal Revenue Code . In 2008, National Organization for Marriage Educational Fund, was formed as a nonprofit corporation exempt from taxation under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code.

We have visited NOM’s offices and sent certified letters requesting copies of what are supposed to be publicly available organizational reports. Yet, NOM refuses to release any of its federal financial documents, in violation of federal law.

Over its two year existence, Brian Brown and NOM president Maggie Gallagher have been the focus of the organization. These two super-humans are keeping very busy and they have been very successful. They must, however, abide by federal and state laws.

Diocese of Portland
$100,000 to Stand for Marriage Maine

The other leading financial supporter of Stand for Marriage Maine is the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland. While not as familiar with the Diocese, I have reviewed their finances though public documents, Diocesan financial reports and newspaper accounts. The Diocese appears to have substantial revenue, but it also has very high expenses. It reported losing $7.5 million in 2008 from the “deteriorating financial market conditions.” Its savings account appeared to contain only $10,812 in its 2008 report.

Recently, the Trinity Catholic School laid off employees, and the Diocese plans to close two Catholic parishes in Lewiston, both due to declining revenue. Just today, the Diocese announced that they were closing three more churches because of tight finances.

Over the past several years, the Diocese has paid out millions of dollars to settle priest abuse claims.

In each annual report, there is a reference to the priest abuse payouts in their “Message from the Finance Officer.” It’s entitled “Cost for Sexual Abuse.” It varies over the past four years that records are available. In 2005, it was reported as $625,000; in 2006 it was $624,000; in 2007 it was listed as $832,000; and in 2008, it was reported as $348,000.

Newspaper accounts report that the Portland Diocese has paid out $2.6 million to 86 victims from 1976 to 2002. Recently, $4.4 million was awarded to Steven Boyden by Justice Joseph Jabar in Kennebec County Superior Court. In January of last year, $4.2 million was awarded to plaintiff William Picher.

The Diocese lists “Insurance Claims Payable” under “Financial Information” in its annual report. This amount is always in the millions, but it is unclear if these charges are related to the “Cost of Sexual Abuse.” In the last two years, those amounts were $2,567,731 (2008) and $3,824,110 (2007).

The Diocese sent out a Bishop’s Appeal to raise funds to pay these claims, perhaps they used a similar approach to raise the money it contributed to Stand for Marriage Maine.

There is no evidence that the Diocese has ever given substantial sums to other ballot question campaigns or PACs in Maine prior to the $100,000 contribution on June 6th. Most organizations such as the Diocese budget all expenses one or two years in advance. The Diocese does not have hundreds of thousands of dollars sitting in their treasury. To make a donation, the Diocese would need to collect donations as part of a separate fund-raising appeal.

In a July 17, 2009 Sun Journal story, Marc Mutty, who is on leave from his work as Communications Director at the Portland Diocese, practically admitted that the Portland Diocese had raised new money for the campaign. He said parishioners should know the donated funds were not taken from the collection plate.

“The money is dedicated revenues that were provided by a donor for causes such as these and money from the collection basket or any of those types of things would never be used,” he said.

Mutty said he only had limited details regarding the origins of the donation.

“It’s my understanding the money was left to the Portland diocese for defending church dogma or policy, that sort of thing. It wasn’t specific to this particular issue. Our application to this issue was our choice, but it fell within the general parameters of the donor’s request,” he said.
This certainly does not correspond to the Diocesan Financial Council Statement of November 2008, which looked to, “…achieving openness and transparency in diocesan financial reporting.”

In Sunday’s Kennebec Journal, Marc Mutty, chairman of Stand for Marriage Maine’s executive committee, said, referring to the criticism by Californians Against Hate. “We are frustrated at the fact that it’s yet one more distraction.”

Knights of Columbus
$50,000 to Stand for Marriage Maine

The Knights of Columbus is chartered as a fraternal benefit society headquartered in New Haven, CT. It is required to provide life insurance to its members. Founded in 1882, it has recently become the “political arm” of the Catholic Church. The Knights has supported constitutional amendments to ban same-sex marriage across the United States.

The Knights of Columbus is a nonprofit corporation, exempt under section 501(c)8 of the Internal Revenue Code. It is very difficult to evaluate its finances. What is unusual about their $50,000 contribution to Maine is that such a substantial amount would come from Washington, DC. Historically, contributions from the Knights come from either the national headquarters in Connecticut or from the state chapter where the election is taking place.

In last year’s California Prop 8 campaign the national Knights gave $1,400,000 and the California Knights gave $25,000. It would be very interesting to see why the Washington, DC Knights gave $50,000 to Stand for Marriage. Because of its size and minimal reporting requirements, the Washington, DC chapter would be a likely recipient of laundered funds. Then they could then turn around and give it to a campaign.

The Knights, as is the case with religious organizations has suffered from severe losses in its investments and has seen its membership decline. Massive contributions to various state anti same-sex marriage campaigns derived from existing treasury funds are inconceivable.

Focus on the Family
$31,000 to Stand for Marriage Maine

James Dobson’s Focus on the Family has been experiencing tough times lately, too. While still a huge power among the religious right in this county, it is not the force it once was. Dr. Dobson has been eclipsed by Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Church and other younger leaders. Last year Focus let go 202 employees. It received much criticism for the $620,000 that it gave to qualify and fund Prop 8, as it was firing 20% of its staff.

Focus still reports $141 million in revenue for 2007. It had a net loss of $3 million that year, however. It has huge expenses to support its gigantic complex in Colorado Springs as well as Dr. Dobson’s extravagant lifestyle.

It would be easy for James Dobson to reach out to some of his wealthy Board members and benefactors and ask them to give funds to Stand for Marriage Maine through Focus on the Family. Michigan’s Elsa Prince, who is on the Board of Focus, gave $450,000 to pass Prop 8 last year. Dr. Dobson has access to many donors who could donate directly rather than use money from the dwindling treasury.

Conclusion

Without question, there are irregularities in the financial disclosures of Stand for Marriage Maine that would warrant an immediate investigation into their funding sources. Unpaid obligations of $145,000 remain, as do many unanswered questions.

Another campaign finance report is not due until October 13, 2009. By this late date, just three weeks before this crucial election, it will be too late to see if this pattern of attempting to hide the true identity of the contributors to Stand for Marriage Maine will continue.

We respectfully request that our allegations be heard at your next regularly scheduled Commission meeting on Tuesday, September 8, 2009.

That would allow the Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices time to ensure an election that will enable Maine’s voters to learn the actual sources of funds contributed to Stand for Marriage Maine.

Thank you very much for your consideration of our request.

Best regards,

Fred Karger
Californians Against Hate
1278 Glenneyre, #20
Laguna Beach, CA 92651
619-592-2008

cc: Attorney General Janet Mills

Attachments: Appendices

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