Fred Karger Hub




Judge Dismisses Most of NOM Lawsuit Against IRS

BY LISA KEEN

CacherisA federal district court judge on June 3 dismissed most of a lawsuit by the National Organization for Marriage that claimed an employee of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service deliberately leaked a confidential tax document from NOM to a political opponent, the Human Rights Campaign. Judge James Cacheris (a Reagan appointee) said NOM failed to provide any evidence that the disclosure was deliberate and politically motivated; but, he said the IRS may bear some responsibility for the legal expenses NOM incurred as a result of that error and said that issue could go to trial.

The case was NOM v. IRS in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, in Alexandria. Cacheris held a hearing on the matter May 29 and issued his decision five days later.

Tax-exempt organizations, including NOM, must file annual reports (called 990 forms) with the IRS, including a Schedule B document that lists donors who have contributed $5,000 or more to the organization. The 990 Forms are available to the public as a means of evaluating the financial health and practices of organizations seeking contributions.

NOM-logoAccording to various court records, an openly gay employee of Bain & Company, a former employer of 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, contacted the IRS in January 2011, identified himself as a member of the media, and requested a copy of NOM’s 990 form for the years 2007 and 2008. Meisel’s request was forwarded to IRS clerk Wendy Peters and, within the month, the forms were sent to Meisel, including the names and addresses of donors that is normally redacted. Meisel then forwarded the 2008 form to HRC’s then campaign media director Kevin Nix. And Nix forwarded the form to a Huffington Post reporter who published an article noting that an Alabama political action committee associated with Romney made a $10,000 contribution to NOM.

KargerGay activist Fred Karger used the information to file a complaint with the California Fair Political Practices Commission, alleging NOM had violated state laws but, as Judge Cacheris notes, NOM was “absolved” of those allegations.

NOM filed suit last October, charging IRS with unlawful disclosure of confidential tax information, but attorneys for the IRS said Peters simply forgot to redact the personal information when she complied with a public information request. It filed the lawsuit in the wake of highly publicized accusations that some IRS offices had delayed giving tax-exempt status to some organizations that had names suggesting they were engaged in political activities and, therefore, not eligible for tax-exempt status. While most of the publicity surrounded organizations with conservative terms –such as Tea Party—in their names, various investigations and reports determined that the offices also gave extra scrutiny to groups with terms like “progressive” and “medical marijuana” in them, too.

An investigation by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration last year indicated that the IRS had applied “inappropriate criteria” in reviewing applications for tax-exempt status.

But Judge Cacheris said NOM failed to present any evidence to support its contention that the IRS clerk willfully disregarded the law, and he said evidence provided by the government “compel[s] the conclusion that Peters accidentally forwarded an unredacted copy” of NOM’s 990 Schedule B.

“The evidence is unrefuted that Peters did not know Meisel or have any connection to the HRC when she disclosed the information,” wrote Cacheris. “Furthermore, NOM has failed to produce a shred of proof that anyone at the IRS altered or obscured” the documents to cover up the error.

However, the judge found that the IRS mistake was the proximate cause of actions taken by Meisel, HRC, and others, creating some responsibility for IRS for the legal expenses NOM incurred as a result of the disclosures.

“The Government’s position that it is not responsible, as a matter of law, for the costs associated with the subsequent misuse of NOM’s confidential taxpayer information is untenable on the facts presented,” said Cacheris. Cacheris said this issue alone –what damages the government might be required to pay for NOM’s legal expenses as a result of the error-- can go to trial. A NOM press release indicates the trial date has been set for June 30.

© 2014 Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


Maine Ethics Panel Fines NOM $50,250, Orders It to Disclose Donors in Anti-Gay Marriage Campaign

Committee

The Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices has found the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) guilty of money laundering and failure to file campaign reports in a unanimous vote, the Kennebec Journal reports:

Eastman_brownThe vote follows an investigation by the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices that found the National Organization for Marriage concealed its operations and donors during its successful bid to repeal Maine’s same-sex marriage law in 2009.

The vote also means that the state will require the National Organization for Marriage to register as a ballot question committee and disclose its donors from the campaign over five years ago.

...In 2009, NOM poured more than $2 million into the $3 million referendum campaign to repeal the law. Brian Brown, the executive director of NOM, was an operating officer on Stand for Marriage Maine, the Maine-based ballot question committee that registered with the state. Prior to the vote, ethics commission members argued that Brown’s dual roles on the Maine committee and NOM allowed the organization to shield its donors and skirt Maine’s donor disclosure law.

The ethics investigation used bank statements and campaign literature to show that NOM used its nonprofit status to draw donations earmarked for the Maine referendum – a violation of Maine election law.

Images via Fred Karger on Facebook here and here.

Karger, a 2012 Republican presidential candidate and activist who filed the complaint against NOM in Maine, has been doggedly pursuing NOM's illegal tactics in Maine and other states.

The Journal adds:

“NOM definitely picked the wrong state to break the law,” Karger said.

Karger said the ruling could assist an investigation that he filed in Iowa in 2013. He is also considering filing another complaint in New Hampshire, where NOM attempted to repeal that state’s same-sex marriage law.

Both Iowa and New Hampshire are mentioned in the 37-page report by the commission’s staff.

NOM is already saying it will not comply with the ruling, according to Karger:


Documentary on Gay Republican Presidential Candidate Fred Karger to Premiere: VIDEO

Fred

As you may recall, Fred Karger, who is also perhaps the most intrepid independent activist fighting to expose the Mormon Church's donations to Prop 8 and NOM's illegal financial activities, ran for President in 2012.

Karger was the first openly gay presidentital candidate to appear on the New Hampshire primary ballot and ran under the campaign slogan "Fred who?". He hoped to show people and the party that there is a different kind of Republican, and now there is a documentary about his campaign premiering tomorrow.

It's the opening night film at MONiff International Film Festival in Peterborough, New Hampshire before it begins a trip around the Granite State this week.

Check out the trailer, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Documentary on Gay Republican Presidential Candidate Fred Karger to Premiere: VIDEO" »


NOM and the LDS Church May Be In Violation Of Hawaii's Lobbying Laws

Nom

Adding more to the mounting pile of evidence that the National Organization for Marriage can't achieve their goals without breaking the law, LGBT activist Fred Karger (pictured, below) issued an 11-page report detailing the illegal activities of NOM and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the state of Hawaii.

KargerPrimary among the complaints are that the Mormon Church is refusing to register their paid employees who are lobbying Hawaii Legislators, and BYU Hawaii President Steven C. Wheelwright, who donated almost a quarter of a million dollars in support of California's Proposition 8, is thought to be one of the most prominent unregistered lobbyists. 

Meanwhile, NOM has failed to register for grassroots lobbying prior to their massive television ad campaign, an activity that most certainly exceeds Hawaii's definition of a lobbyist as someone who is "either spending five hours of their time in a month or $750 of their means."

A PDF of Karger's very detailed letter can be found here: Download Hawaii Ethics Commission Letter.


Ethics Board Keeps Its Chair As NOM Continues to Lose in Iowa

Brian BrownTowleroad previously reported on the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board's decision to investigate the National Organization for Marriage for the alleged violation of state campaign financial disclosure law. NOM's president, Brian Brown, subsequently posted an inflammatory response, accusing the board's chair, Megan Tooker, of "bias" and "unprofessionalism", and calling for her removal from the case. The board voted unanimously Wednesday not to remove Tooker from the case, and opted to proceed with the investigation. 

Tooker told the Associated Press that she is careful not to make any sort of biased statements during meetings or to the press, and said that accusations such as this are common from PACs and candidates from throughout the political spectrum. "I never take that into account nor should I. The staff never takes that into account, it's irrelevant. The only thing we care about is whether or not groups, candidates, and PACS comply with Iowa laws," she said. The board's vice-chairman, John Walsh, also offered his support for Tooker, and told press that he finds NOM's accusations to be unfounded since they cannot produce evidence of any wrongdoing. "It's all irrelevant because facts will determine this case. I don't know why we're having this extended argument about our counsel who in my opinion has done nothing wrong."

With NOM backed into a corner, it chose to set its sights on another target: the openly-gay Republican politician who filed the first complaint to the IECDB, Fred Karger. The group posted an article on their official site attacking Karger and calling him a "serial, frivolous case filer". NOM regional director Chris Plante said in the post that “it's an effort to silence people who would stand for marriage in the public square, who would criticize and critique our politicians and judges who redefine marriage against the will of the people." The group also falsely claims that it does not have to disclose its donor list under Iowa law, and that Karger is only filing the complaint to "silence" their "voice". 

Fred-KargerLuckily, the Des Moines Register's Editorial Board disagreed with NOM, calling the board's decision to keep Tooker "wise":

"The case against Tooker consisted of a couple of quotes lifted from an earlier board meeting in which she used strong words to disagree with NOM’s interpretation of the law in response to board members’ questions. Whether her language was too strong is a matter of interpretation, but it’s her job to give the board legal advice.

"NOM also said Tooker may be biased against the group because she worked as a law clerk for one of the three justices removed by voters in 2010. This, too, is a stretch: Her clerkship ended before the court considered the marriage case, and the fact that she worked for a member of the court who was later removed by voters is not, by itself, evidence that she can’t objectively interpret Iowa law....

"Whatever the ethics board decides, it is safe to say NOM will continue to wage a battle to protect the identities of its donors. If it prevails, the Legislature will have to rewrite the law to make clear that the source of money used to support or defeat candidates or ballot issues must be publicly reported."

As for the group's accusations against Karger? At present, they have yet to back it up with any sort of legal proceeding. Thus, it appears that it is simply a way for NOM to scare supporters into giving even more donations. 


NOM's Brian Brown Attacks Iowa Ethics Official For Supposed "Bias" And "Unprofessionalism"

NOM Blog
In the wake of Iowa's supreme court ruling that legalized marriage equality in the state, the National Organization for Marriage launched a campaign attacking three of the court's justices, in attempt to get them replaced. According to a complaint filed by Fred Karger, NOM resorted to some questionable fundraising tactics during the campaign, and refused to disclose the names of their donors after repeatedly being asked to do so. 

Karger's compaint subsequently launched an investigation by the Iowa Ethics & Campaign Disclosure Board after the group voted unanimously to pursue it. NOM President Brian Brown was obviously not happy, a fact that likely surprises no one. Anyone familiar with Brown's history of distorted and inflammatory remarks could likely expect a stong reaction, which he promptly posted on NOM's blog. In the post, Brown chose to especially single out the board's chair, Megan Tooker, alleging a few bold accusations:

"The people of Iowa are entitled to the highest standards of ethical conduct and independence from the state’s top ethics officer, but Megan Tooker has shown herself to be biased and incredibly unprofessional in her handling of the complaint against NOM. Ms. Tooker worked for one of the justices we helped remove from office in 2010 and which is the subject of the complaint she is evaluating. At a minimum this presents the appearance of a conflict of interest. Furthermore, her comments to the media reveal deep-seated animosity toward our position and are grossly inaccurate, prejudicial and inappropriate. We demand that she be removed from having any role in evaluating the complaint filed against us.

"By blatantly misrepresenting our position in the media, Ms. Tooker has in effect convicted us in absentia, without conducting any investigation or receiving any evidence. She’s prejudiced our case by lying to the media about our position on critical matters, and then declaring us to be ‘absolutely wrong’ and ‘absolutely false’ in our defense of the complaint. Clearly, this is not the kind of ethical behavior one would expect from the state’s top ethics officer, someone charged with conducting a fair and impartial investigation into the facts, and then carefully applying the facts to the law. Rather, it shows the deep bias she holds toward us for having helped unseat her former employer."

Brian BrownAs was noted by ThinkProgress, Tooker's former employer, the supposed justice in question, was not the only judge to issue the decision in favor of marriage equality--the decision was unanimous, and NOM was only able to remove three of the four justices in that Iowa supreme court. Furthermore, Tooker was not the only member of the board to vote in favor of the investigation. That decision was also unanimous. Even if Tooker was as biased as Brown's claims painted her to be, there was an entire rest of the board to help counteract that.

ThinkProgress also reported on an event that took place in Iowa over the weekend, during which Brown attacked Karger, the person responsible for the compaint that launched the investigation. "Karger told On Top magazine that Brown 'just began to lash out at me' and was 'clearly bothered.' Indeed, NOM has been fighting to hide the source of its funding in every state it has campaigned, so Brown may well have reason to be concerned that the ruse could soon come unraveled."

According to an update, NOM is now using the investigation as yet another excuse to solicit donations on their official site. 


Trending



Towleroad - Blogged