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NOM’s ‘Dirty Money’ And Dirty Tactics Revealed In Shocking New Exposé

by David Badash on March 25, 2013

in Marriage,News,Politics

Post image for NOM’s ‘Dirty Money’ And Dirty Tactics Revealed In Shocking New Exposé

NOM, the National Organization For Marriage, is accused of skirting campaign finance laws, money-laundering, and being funded by literally a handful of major donors, according to a new, extensive, and shocking exposé by E.J. Graff at The Advocate. In “Dirty Money,” Graff points to NOM’s increasingly harsher rhetoric, greater willingness to attack homosexuality and LGBT people, totuting its ability to protect donors’ identities, and state-by-state lawsuits attempting to overturn financial disclosure laws.

“In internal documents (which came to light because of a lawsuit that NOM brought against campaign finance disclosure, NOM v. McKee), NOM wrote, ‘One key advantage we now have is the capacity to protect the identity of our donors,’” Graff reports.

“NOM puts its hundreds of thousands of dollars into state campaigns in ways that protect its donors from being identified,” Graff writes:

Its campaign finance philosophy is that the best defense is a good offense: With the help of James Bopp, the lawyer who brought the notorious Citizens United lawsuit to the Supreme Court, NOM has repeatedly launched lawsuits arguing that states’ campaign reporting laws are unconstitutional efforts to chill free speech, even though it has just as repeatedly lost.

Watching NOM closely is Fred Karger, a gay California Republican who believes that NOM is a secret cabal actively conspiring to undermine campaign finance laws. Karger writes to state election commissions to convince them of the same. At Karger’s prompting, California, Maine, and Minnesota are investigating NOM’s campaign finance tactics.

Each year, according to NOM’s tax filings, two or three donors give NOM between $1 million and $3.5 million apiece; another two or three give between $100,000 and $750,000; and 10 or so others give between $5,000 and $95,000. In 2009 the top five donors made up three fourths of NOM’s budget; in 2010 the top two donors gave two thirds of the year’s total donations; and in 2011 the top two donors gave three fourths of NOM’s total income. But those funders’ identities are a mystery. Their names are redacted on NOM’s federal tax returns. Under federal campaign laws, none of those names have to be disclosed.

But if, as Karger alleges, those donors are actually using NOM as a way to contribute to state issue campaigns, that would be illegal. The states in which NOM runs campaigns (via locally registered groups) require donors to publicly disclose their names and addresses and sometimes their employers. The allegation is that NOM establishes state campaign organizations against marriage equality as pass-through groups, with local partners that do little. NOM solicits major donations from its large contributors for these campaigns and donates to the local fights so that NOM, not the individual, will be listed as the donor. If true, that’s fraud and “financial structuring,” the technical term for money laundering. (Calls to the four state organizations asking for comment were not returned.)

And then there’s the matter of just how unhinged and on-edge NOM president Brian Brown appears:

When asked why so many more people were willing to be listed as donors to the marriage equality campaigns than to the other side, Brown was impatient and exploded with anger at how LGBT extremists — condoned, in his view, by the marriage equality movement at large — attacked his side with “a campaign of intimidation, hatred, and attacking donors.” Gay extremists, he said, are attempting to “punish people…for exercising their First Amendment rights to speak up and stand for what they believe in, to donate to what they believe in…. They want to hurt people. They want to hurt people! Put that in the article! They want to hurt people!”

When questioned on this, Brown became ever more emphatic. “I don’t think you understand the reality that donors on our side get death threats, I don’t think you understand the reality that it’s not a joke when a guy [Floyd Lee Corkins] comes into the Family Research Council with a gun, I don’t think you understand that creating an environment in which it’s OK to demean human beings because of their views is wrong. I can respect people and I support their constitutional right to give and to support their position to advance gay marriage. What we are asking for is the same respect. And at this point we are not getting it.”

And then comes the truth that NOM is really not willing to publicly promote, but that sits at the heart of the anti-gay organization:

The head of NOM’s nonprofit educational arm, the Ruth Institute, Jennifer Roback Morse, promotes her stance with a prominent article headlined “Why Opposing the Gay Lobby Is Not Antigay.”

However, since Maggie Gallagher ceased being NOM’s board chair, the Ruth Institute has skated over the edge of being actively antigay. Last year Carlos Maza of Equality Matters attended the Ruth Institute’s annual training program for “emerging leaders” in how to talk about marriage and LGBT issues. He writes, “What I saw at the conference — selling a book that labels gay people as pedophiles worthy of death, distributing Bible quotes to college students similarly calling for gays to be killed, hosting entire speeches devoted to condemning gays and lesbians as deviant sinners — represented a brand of antigay extremism that I assumed even NOM would have shied away from.” He listened to a lecture from antigay author Robert A.J. Gagnon announcing that homosexuality was “self-degrading,” inflicts “measurable harm,” is unhealthy, emotionally dangerous, unacceptable to God, and leads to depression, substance abuse, and disease. The weekend, Maza writes, taught “that gays and lesbians — including me — are unstable, dangerous, and unworthy of raising their own families.” The reading list included materials saying that lesbians and gay men are in a “rebellion against God,” that our relationships are inherently “unstable, unhealthy, and promiscuous,” and relying on such discredited authors as George Gilder and Paul Cameron.

Graff notes an important point, one with which we agree: since Gallagher’s supposed resignation, NOM has become increasingly hate-filled and “religious” — and it seems clear Brian Brown is, if not the cause, at the very least the messenger.

Graff’s article in The Advocate is important and one that many need to read. For all those who think this is a simple case of differences of opinion in the culture wars, Graff proves it’s anything but.


Image of dollar bills by Revisorweb via Wikimedia

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Scott_Rose March 25, 2013 at 1:43 pm

I want to point out that in my series of contributions to this site about NOM's lies, and NOM's leaders' lies, I have a standing policy that if anybody can demonstrate that something I published was not accurate, I will publish corrections. Yet, Robert George, Maggie Gallagher and Brian Brown have never contacted me/us with documentation showing that our exposes of their lies contain any inaccuracies. Funny how easy it is for Brian Brown to allege that he has received "threats" while never discussing this standing offer to make corrections in very detailed reports about NOM's lies.

StanJames February 26, 2014 at 2:42 am

I;ve wondered about Brian Brown and now I thiink I know the answer. He was a quaker and became catholic. Its almost unheard of for a Quaker to be such a bat shit hater

IMO he is a gay guy fixed by the churches "regeneration program" where they dirve these victims so far into the closet with driven self hatred its hard to understand how bad it is. But it makes them pathological liars about their sexuality

Of course the self hatred has to come out somewhere – I've met 3 admitted ly ex gays. Two when asked abbout Matthew Shepard said "His parents should have fixed him

The other said the same and re the westboro baptist said "gays support them because they bring the gays sympathy

IMO he's just a variation on this re how he throws out his own self hatreds. Also the explsoion shows he's freaking out re all the losses

Most of us who follow this know that a scott lively – another utter extremist has been in russia, met with putin

there have been a few articles where brown has also been there. Hey Brian if you dont like gays go jump off a cliff. we know what you are.

sdfrenchie March 25, 2013 at 2:24 pm

Bunch of chicken shit losers! The very groups that want us dead are accusing us of death threats! As if we're not threatened by their various stances against LGBT. Need I point out the number of gay bashings that have led to death or permanent disfigurement and mental distress? Or the number of suicides because of negative attitudes towards LGBT? That any of us have to endure such torment in the country we are citizens in is enough to earn them death threats on our behalf. Of course, they can't take the same sort of intimidation they dish out because they're a bunch of fucking cowards. If they had any balls the donators to NOM would openly admit their names or corporations. They don't because they know they're wrong but want to push us around because they're miserable fucks themselves.

Bose_in_SP_MN March 25, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Brian Brown: "so we’re very proud of our grassroots support"

Actually, I remember Brown admitting — in a 2012 post-election conference call or something similar with supporters, if memory serves — that grassroots support came up far short here in MN. Not enough churches got involved, not enough pastors were active enough.

It also seems possible that MN Catholic bishops are not so enamored of NOM since the loss. Whereas Abp Nienstedt was head cheerleader and arm-twister in 2012, the recent anti-gay rally at the Capitol brought Brian Brown to town (and of course, the podium) as well as a number of religious leaders. Nienstedt was even meeting with Gov. Dayton earlier on the day of the rally, and the Gov reported that marriage equality was barely a topic of conversation… the Abp had many other concerns on his mind during their annual breakfast meeting, and didn't press Dayton for a veto should marriage equality cross his desk later this year.

It's as if MN bishops are following in the footsteps of their brothers in Maine, and stepping away from NOM… propping up Frank Schubert's & Brian Brown's careers just isn't fun any more.

BJLincoln March 25, 2013 at 3:11 pm

"…I don’t think you understand that creating an environment in which it’s OK to demean human beings because of their views is wrong. "
WTF do he thinks he's doing to us!

I am so looking forward to tomorrow. I want to see and hear what they say about us right in front of SCOTUS.
I also have some sick need to get a picture shaking hands with anyone of the big losers. BB or Maggie would be awesome.

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