Donors to Washington's Anti-Gay Referendum 71 to Be Made Public
Protect Marriage Washington, the group behind Referendum 71, which seeks to repeal the state's "everything but marriage" law, has failed in an attempt to keep private the names of donors who gave in support of the anti-gay measure:
"The group had asked the state to redact and seal the names, addresses and occupations of donors, citing threats of violence against supporters and churches. Donors' information had already been made public, in accordance with state law. The commission said Protect Marriage Washington had not proved that disclosure of donors' names would result in 'manifestly unreasonable hardship' to contributors. While Protect Marriage Washington did provide the commission with some threatening e-mails and blog postings, it 'provided no evidence from or about donors that have demonstrated that they have received threats of violence against their lives or property,' or that they were being targeted for boycotts, PDC assistant director Doug Ellis said during the hearing. Moreover, the commission decided, removing the names would thwart the purpose of the public disclosure law: To avoid secrecy in campaigns."
In related news, Washington Families Standing Together, a group opposing the repeal effort, has filed suit attempting to block certification of the measure, saying the Secretary of State failed to comply with the law:
"Signature gatherers are supposed to sign declarations saying that signatures they've collected are valid to the best of their knowledge and that they personally circulated the petition, the lawsuit says. '...it became apparent that the Secretary, relying on advice from the Attorney General, was ignoring the requirement directed by the Legislature that the anti-fraud declaration be signed by each signature gatherer,' according to the lawsuit. The plaintiffs in the case also say the secretary of state was ignoring requirements that say only registered voters can sign petitions. The lawsuit says that on Aug. 17 Secretary of State Sam Reed told his staff to ignore the date in voter files as the voter registration date and accept signatures from people who were not cleared to vote when they signed."
Hearings are scheduled for next week.
The Seattle PI reports: "As of Wednesday afternoon, signature checkers had reviewed 117,069 signatures - 103,198 have been approved and 13,871 have been rejected. The signature error rate currently is 11.85 percent. Based on the number of signatures they turned in, the error rate can't go over 12.4 percent for the measure to qualify for the November election."