The National Organization For Marriage was dealt a heavy legal blow today in Maine, having been found guilty of violating state ethics laws relating to campaign finance. The anti-gay marriage group was fined a whopping $50, 250 — the largest fine of its kind ever in state history — and ordered to reveal its donors.
The case revolved around NOM’s work on the 2009 voter ballot initiative that repealed Maine’s same-sex marriage law even before it went into effect, depriving countless same-sex couples of the right to marry.
As Rights Equal Rights founder Fred Karger, who filed the lawsuit, pointed out, NOM hid the names of its donors in violation of state law. Karger called it “money laundering.” He also provided the image, above, which shows NOM fueled Maine’s 2009 anti-gay marriage initiative with oodles of cash, including donations from several unnamed donors who contributed $50,000 each, one who contributed $400,000, and even one — donor #11 — who contributed $2,475,000. All those donors today are still unknown to the people of Maine, in violation of Maine state law.
NOM, however, is refusing to admit defeat.
Karger states that NOM chairman John Eastman said he would not pay the $50,250 fine, nor would he release the names of their donors, despite a ruling by the Maine Ethics Committee.
Today, NOM released a statement that all but blamed their lawyers for their actions, and yet made clear they were not altering course.
“NOM vigorously denies that it violated any disclosure laws during the 2009 campaign opposing same-sex marriage. We worked with legal counsel to understand the law, and we followed that advice,” the statement reads.
In other words, if we were wrong it was our lawyer’s fault.
Stating that they “intend to appeal this decision in court,” NOM also cried that they “appear to be a victim of selective prosecution since major groups on the other side of this same campaign engaged in the same approach we did.”
Or, if we were wrong so was everyone else — which is never sound legal strategy.
Meanwhile, the Kennebec Journal reports that “Chris Plante, NOM’s regional director, told the Portland Press Herald last week that the group will ‘do whatever it takes to defend this and protect our donors’ anonymity.’”
The Journal also reported on today’s hearing, indicating that there were “occasionally heated exchanges,” during which NOM chairman John Eastman and NOM president Brian Brown “said NOM had been singled out by the commission.”
They argued that the Human Rights Campaign, a gay activist group, operated in the same manner during the 2009 referendum and the 2012 ballot initiative that legalized same-sex marriage in Maine.
Eastman said NOM would file an ethics complaint against the Human Rights Campaign for its activities in the referendum battles.
Yes, NOM is now going to invest time and money suing the Human Rights Campaign, because.
We invite you to sign up for our new mailing list, and subscribe to The New Civil Rights Movement via email or RSS.