The $135,000Â Aaron and Melissa Klein were fined after discriminating against a same-sex couple has turned into a major net profit several times as much.
More than two years ago Sweet Cakes By Melissa ownersÂ Aaron and Melissa Klein refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple. The couple, Laurel BowmanÂ and Rachel Cryer,Â filed a complaint with the State of Oregon, expressing the emotional upset that illegal refusal cost them. Later, they would also be forced to detail the death threats and other negative attention visited upon them by the Kleins’ anonymous supporters who believe they were following the edicts of their Christian faith.Â
Late last month, after a lengthy legal battle â€“Â which at one point included the Kleins’ lawyer asking for the proceedings to be stopped and the same-sex couple to be presented with a $200,000 bill for damages, and attorney and court fees, which was rightly deniedÂ â€“ theÂ Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industry (BOLI) decided in favor of theÂ Bowman-Cryers, fining the Kleins $135,000.
But the lengthy, drawn out case gave plenty of time and opportunity for conservatives and the religious right to paint theÂ Bowman-Cryers and the LGBT community as “fascists” and to generate a great deal of public sympathy for the Kleins, mostly via false statements, hyperbole, truth-twisting, and just straight-up lying.
That sympathy has turned into big bucks for the Kleins.Â
NCRM has reported before on the fundraising efforts promoted by religious extremists, from Franklin GrahamÂ to theÂ American Family Association. A week ago donations to various fundraising campaigns came to about as much as the Kleins’ $135,000 fineÂ â€“ which reportedly has yet to be paid. Now, those efforts have turned into a cash cow for the Kleins. Whenever they ultimately decide to cash out, they’ll be rolling in the dough.
As we noted last week,Â Franklin GrahamÂ has been hostingÂ a fundraisingÂ campaignÂ for them via his Samaritan’s Purse charity, and a GoFundMe campaign delivered reportedlyÂ about $60,000 after taxesÂ before it was shut down, although some state that number was closer to $80,000.
Another fundraising campaignÂ via Continue To Give last week had taken in over $55,000. Today, eight days later, that figure is about $345,000. Most of those donations appear to be anonymous, but Continue To Give listsÂ 7,537 separate donations, an average of about $45 each.
The anti-gay hate groupÂ American Family Association has been promoting the fundraising campaign as a way to grow their own donor base, asking supporters to sign a petition linking to theÂ Continue To Give campaign, while handing over their email addresses so AFA can later spam them. The petition also falsely claims a “gag order” is in place, generating even more sympathy for the Kleins.
TheÂ American Family Association is far from the only right wing group promoting the Kleins as religiousÂ celebrities. The Heritage Foundation, headed by the virulently anti-gay former U.S. Republican Senator Jim DeMint, put out this video earlier this year to give the Kleins the opportunity to explain how they don’t hate gay people, just their weddings:
“There was never any intention on hurting these two girls, ever,” Melissa says on camera. “We’re not those type of people,” she insists.Â
“We’ve been mischaracterized,” Aaron Klein adds. “We’ve served gays on many occasions.” In court documents he admitted to also quoting Leviticus 18:22Â to Rachel Bowman-Cryer’s mother after declining to bake the wedding cake.
“We’re not those type of people.” “We’ve been mischaracterized.”Â Leviticus quotation notwithstanding.
The Kleins, via their Facebook page, are promoting other fundraisers too, likeÂ oneÂ by the Lynchwood Church of God, andÂ their P.O. box addressÂ for please who wish to send them cash or checks directly.
So, $345,000, plus let’s call it $60,000, and not counting any other cash from fundraisingÂ efforts like Graham’sÂ Samaritan’s Purse and others, gives the Kleins $405,000. That’s exactly three times the amount of the fine the people of Oregon imposed on them after discriminating against theÂ Bowman-Cryers.
It’s actually surprising how un-generous the Kleins’ supporters have been. After all, to the far Christian right, they are heroesÂ and martyrs who are standing up against the long arm of the law and gay “fascism.”
By contrast, the owners of Indiana’s Memories PizzaÂ earlier this year merely told a reporter they couldn’t, if asked, cater a wedding of a same-sex couple. A hypothetical that never came to pass. In return, conservatives and the religious right threw more than twice as much cash at the pizza purveyorsÂ â€“ nearly $850,000.
The Oregonian, Sept. 30, 2015, reports “crowdfunding efforts … have raised more than $500,000″ on the Kleins’ behalf.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to clarify that the Klein’s fine has not been paid despite the amount of money donated.
Image via The Heritage Foundation/YouTube
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ABC Host Pops Marco Rubio’s Balloon Rant: It ‘Happened Three Times’ Under Trump
ABC host Jonathan Karl reminded Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) that former President Donald Trump had failed to notify Americans on at least three occasions when Chinese balloons entered the country’s airspace.
During an interview on ABC, Karl asked Rubio if President Joe Biden should have gone against the advice of the U.S. military and instead shot the balloon down over populated land.
Rubio agreed that the debris could have “hurt, harmed or killed people.”
“If that was the case, then I think it really would have been helpful for the president of the United States to get on national television and explain to the American people, this is what we’re dealing with, this is what I’m going to do about it, and this is why I haven’t done it yet. None of that happened. And I don’t know why. I don’t know why they waited so long to tell people about this.”
But Karl pointed out that Trump had failed to disclose similar incidents at least three times.
“This happened three times under the previous president,” the host said. “Obviously, there were no public notifications there.”
Burn Bags and Use of Personal Email: Justices’ Security Practices Even Worse Than Leak Investigation Showed
Multiple sources familiar with the court’s operations told CNN that justices often used personal email accounts for sensitive communications, employees used printers that didn’t produce logs and “burn bags” to collect sensitive materials for destruction were often left open and unattended in hallways.
“This has been going on for years,” one former employee said.
Some justices were slow to adopt email technology — they were “not masters of information security protocol,” according to one source — and court employees were afraid to confront them over the security risks.
Supreme Court marshal Gail Curley in her investigative report noted that printer logs intended to track document production were insufficient, but a former employee said employees who had VPN access could print documents from any computer, and remote work during COVID-19 shutdowns and otherwise meant draft opinions could have been taken from the building in violation of court guidelines.
Curley’s report noted that court methods for destroying sensitive documents should be improved, but three employees said striped burn bags supplied to chambers were often left sitting out unattended, and each justice had their own protocols for disposing of court documents.
A source familiar with court security practices said some colleagues stapled burn bags shut, while others filled them to capacity and left them near their desks, and others simply left them sitting in hallways where anyone with access to non-public areas could have taken sensitive materials.
Ethics Complaint Against Sinema Urges Investigation Into Staffers’ Duties and Her Possible ‘Abuse of Taxpayer Dollars’
If you are hired to work in Senator Kyrsten Sinema‘s office on Capitol Hill there is a 37-page memo you’ll want to read detailing all the responsibilities her staffers are required to perform, from getting her groceries, calling Verizon and going to her D.C. home to wait for a repair person if the internet goes out, scheduling massages, and ensuring her very detailed airplane requirements are met.
“It is your job to make her as comfortable as possible on each flight,” the memo says, as The Daily Beast first reported in December.
But now a group of 13 non-profit organizations have joined to file an ethics complaint against Senator Sinema (I-AZ), a new Daily Beast report reveals Friday, including details from that 37-page memo which the newly-independent lawmaker directed to be drawn up. Dated Thursday, the complaint is titled: “Letter to Senate Ethics Committee Regarding Reports of Sinema Abusing Taxpayer Dollars.”
“Senate Ethics guidelines stipulate that staff should not be asked to perform personal errands for members. This is an unambiguous ethical boundary,” the group’s complaint reads.
It also points to that 37-page memo, which it says, “indicates that staff are required, as a condition of their jobs, to carry out numerous tasks that are outside the scope of public employment, including doing personal errands for the Senator, carrying out household tasks at her private residence, and advancing their own funds for her personal purchases. It makes unreasonably precise scheduling demands, and former staff have confirmed some of the allegations.”
The allegations continue.
“And, most troubling, it calls on staff members, who are employed and paid by the public and explicitly barred from campaign activity, to schedule and facilitate political fundraisers and meetings with campaign donors, presumably during the workday while they are on the clock and physically on federal property.”
“Senate staff are prohibited under your guidelines from engaging in political activity ‘on Senate time, using Senate equipment or facilities.’ While you have not prohibited campaign activity outside work hours, the plain language of the memo clearly implies that Sen. Sinema expects her staff to carry out these scheduling tasks during the workday. And these tasks may separately violate Senate Rule 41.1, which explicitly prohibits Senate employees from ‘solicit[ing]’ campaign funds.”
The complaint also alleges that “Sen. Sinema required her staff to schedule three physical therapy and massage sessions a week related to her training for athletic competitions, and to tightly manage her dietary schedule — while allotting only a 30-minute period on Wednesdays for meetings with the constituents she represents.”
The carefully-worded complaint adds, “the allegations paint a picture of a Senator who is not only unresponsive to her constituents, but also disrespectful and even abusive to her employees and wholly unconcerned about her obligations under the law.”
The Daily Beast has posted a copy of the complaint here.
You can read The Beast’s full report here.
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