Friday, November 6, 2009

Maine: Hiding the money behind Yes on One

In any political story, it's always revealing to follow the follow the money, and the battle over Maine's gay marriage law is no exception. The law, of course, was defeated by a narrow margin in last Tuesday's referendum, an event that's received national attention. But if you want to know who provided the money to support that effort, you're largely out of luck.

Campaign finance disclosures show the majority of the funds fueling the anti-gay marriage came from a single source, the National Organization for Marriage in Princeton, New Jersey which, in violation of Maine election regulations, refused to register as a political action committee and thereby reveal its donors. In fact, last month the organization actually sued the state of Maine in an effort to avoid scrutiny. This week a federal judge in Bangor threw out the suit, but it's still going to be some time -- if ever -- before NOM is forced to show their cards.

NOM is apparently eager to avoid disclosure, as their most recent federal Form 990 leaves the identity of all contributors blank.

Meanwhile, the Mormon church is being investigated in California in connection with contributions improperly funnelled through NOM, and some suspect the group's money is coming from the shores of Great Salt Lake. The group is headed by Maggie Gallagher, a columnist who has her own history of concealing political money: she was revealed to be one of several journalists paid by the Bush administration to promote its policies and says she "forgot" to disclose to readers that she'd received tens of thousands to do so.

Another story Maine's media ought to be digging into, but probably won't.

[Update on this topic, 12/13/08]

Update, 1/25/10: My full report on this issue in Down East is available here.]

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