Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Maine's Question 1: preliminary forensics

I've been following the money behind Maine's same sex marriage ballot in general, and the single largest player's failure to play by the rules in particular. (The National Organization on Marriage provided nearly two-thirds of the funds to defeat Maine's same sex marriage law, but has sued the state in federal court in an effort to keep the source of their money secret.)

The final ballot question finance reports are now in -- No on 1 filed theirs at 30 minutes to midnight last night -- giving analysts some insight into how, when, and from where money flowed to each side.

I posted some preliminary observations on Stand for Marriage Maine's final filing a few days ago. No on 1's final report (covering the period after Oct. 20) has no big surprises. It raised $548,000 in the final phase of the campaign, the vast majority in small contributions from hundreds of individuals. The biggest donations were $35,000 from Fred Eychaner (a Chicago-based publisher and Democratic activist), $20,000 from Jonathan Lewis (a South Florida activist), $20,000 from GLAD, and $10,000 from Stephen King.

Comparing the filings from the two camps, one thing is immediately apparent. In the final days of the campaign, same sex marriage opponents were able to close the funding gap through a series of very large payments from NOM: a total of $340,000 poured in four payments between Oct 23 and Oct 29. Without the organization's support, Stand for Marriage Maine would have been in deep trouble, as it provided 63.1% of its total funding.

This apparently allowed Stand for Marriage to outspend No on 1 on advertising in the final days of the campaign perhaps by more than three to one. No on 1 paid their media consultants McMahon Squire and Associates, Mission Control, Black Blue Communications, and Mundy Katowitz Media a total of $202,000 during the filing period, while Stand for Marriage Maine paid over $652,000 to their media team: Aaron Thomas and Associates, the Monaco Group, and the cryptic Mar/Com Services. These numbers aren't precise -- both groups had large payments to political consultancies and other organizations which may have been subcontracting ads for them and either group may have paid for contracts ahead of time (so they were recorded in the previous filing period) -- but they do suggest same sex marriage opponents may have benefited from a last minute spending surge. [Update, 1/25/10: My full report on this issue in Down East is available here.]

Mainers may also be interested in the Kennebec Journal's report this morning on the (remarkably large) corporate opposition to Question 3, which would have repealed Maine's school consolidation law.

1 comment:

  1. Mar/Com Services is a cover for Bill Criswell of Criswell Associates- some of my leaders parsed out the money as well: