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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:


Wednesday Speed Read: Houston, Maine and NOM, Wisconsin, Pope Francis, World LGBT Rights

BY LISA KEEN / Keen News Service

ParkerHOUSTON COUNCIL VOTES TODAY:

The Houston City Council is scheduled to vote today on an ordinance proposed by lesbian Mayor Annise Parker, to adopt a policy that prohibits discrimination based on a number of categories, including sexual orientation and gender identity.

MAINE LIKELY TO PENALIZE NOM:

A Maine election ethics commission will vote today on whether to fine the National Organization for Marriage for failing to register as a ballot question committee in a 2009 anti-gay referendum. The staff of the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices issued a 37-page report April 9, recommending the commission fine NOM more than $50,000 for its failure to register as a committee and file campaign finance reports that disclosed its donors. The report notes that NOM spent $3 million in Maine in 2009 to encourage voter passage of a repeal a law allowing same-sex couples to marry, most of it funneled into a group called Stand for Marriage Maine. “NOM intentionally set up its fundraising strategy to avoid donor disclosure,” states the staff letter. In a May 6 letter responding to the recommendation, a legal group called “Act Right” asserts that NOM “made no expenditures”’ under Maine law.

WalkerWISCONSIN BRACING FOR THE FALL:

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, through his attorney general, filed a motion Friday asking U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb to stay her decision in a lawsuit challenging the state’s ban if that decision finds the ban unconstitutional. Crabb (a Carter appointee) last month denied Walker’s request to dismiss an ACLU-led lawsuit, Wolf v. Walker. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel also reported Friday that Walker has begun to express his own doubts about the ban’s constitutionality. “I'm not going to pretend to tell a federal judge in that regard what he or she should do about it," Walker told the paper. "...I don't know what (allowing gay marriage) means. Voters don't talk to me about that.” But the Sentinel noted that Republican Attorney General  J.B. Van Hollen has made clear he intends to appeal a losing ruling to the Seventh Circuit.

FrancisHRC ASKS POPE TO MEET WITH TEACHERS:

The Human Rights Campaign announced Tuesday that it has sent a letter to Pope Francis on behalf of nine teachers who have lost their jobs at Catholic schools either because they are gay or because they support a gay family member. The letter states that the teachers hope the pope’s "messages of acceptance” and “pastoral leadership” will enable him to “correct these hurtful injustices.” The letter was prompted in part by new policies being adopted by some dioceses, including Cincinnati, that call for firing any employee who even speaks in favor of the “homosexual lifestyle.” “We ask for a Papal audience with our families,” states the letter, “so that you may hear our personal stories firsthand and see the impact the Church's actions have had on us all."

RollercoasterGLOBAL ‘ROLLER COASTER’:

The Human Rights Campaign on May 15 released its inaugural issue of a report monitoring LGBT equal rights globally, and it characterized 2013 as a “proverbial roller coaster.” Six nations began allowing same-sex couples to marry, but Russia passed its harsh laws against “promoting” anything gay. Activism emerged in such countries as Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Iran, and yet Uganda and Nigeria cracked down with new laws criminalizing same-sex relations and imposing draconian penalties. Equality Rising notes: “Change is happening at a rapid rate. As some LGBT people are nearing legal equality, we must work together to ensure that others are not left behind.”

© copyright 2014 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


Maine Ethics Commission Recommends $50K+ Fine For NOM, Donor Name Disclosure

MaineRemember waaaaaaay back when the National Organization for Marriage lost the fight in '09 to keep the names of their campaign donors hidden? And then lost again in '11? And then lost their appeal in '12? And how last year Maine's highest court ordered that the donor names be turned over?

The Maine Ethics Commission is now considering imposing financial penalites on NOM for their disclosure shenanigans to the tune of $50,250.

While $50k isn't a large penalty for an organization like NOM, which rakes in millions, it would be the largest fine ever imposed by the board and it would force NOM to finally disclose the names of their donors whom they have been trying so hard to keep cloaked, some of whom donated as much as $50,000 each. The board will reach their decision whether or not to impose the fine during their May 28th meeting.


Friday Speed Read: Darrin Gayles, Indiana Marriage, Mike Michaud, Clay Aiken

GaylesNOMINEE ADVANCES OUT OF COMMITTEE:

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, by voice vote, recommended the confirmation of openly gay federal district court nominee Darrin Gayles. A vote on the nomination had been scheduled for last week, but Republicans on the committee held over the vote on Gayles’ nomination and that of three others to the district court in southern Florida. Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) noted Thursday that both senators from Florida have given their consent to advancing all four nominees. The nomination of a previous openly gay African American man to the federal bench in Miami was killed when Senator Marco Rubio raised objections. If cleared by the full Senate, Gayles will be the first openly gay African American male to be confirmed to a federal bench seat.

INDIANA PRELIMINARY VICTORY: Sandler

A federal district court judge ruled Thursday that Indiana’s ban on recognizing same-sex marriages harms a same-sex couple “in numerous tangible and intangible ways.” In doing so, Judge Richard Young ordered the state to recognize the marriage license obtained out of state by Niki Quasney and Amy Sandler to protect Sandler’s rights to care Quasney, who is near death from ovarian cancer. The order also requires Indiana, upon Quasney’s death, to list Sandler as her spouse on the death certificate. Young ruled that he doubts Indiana’s ban “will suffer a different fate than those around the country,” where other federal district courts have consistently found them unconstitutional. Last month, Judge Young granted a temporary restraining order requiring Indiana to recognize the Quasney-Sandler marriage license obtained in Massachusetts. Lambda Legal brought the case, Baskin v. Bogan, on behalf of several couples and the court must still consider the merits of the overall challenge to the state’s ban. Lambda staff attorney Paul Castillo, said that, “while this family is experiencing urgent, life-threatening medical circumstances, they’re just one of the thousands of same-sex couples in Indiana enduring real financial and dignitary harm due to the State’s discriminatory marriage ban. Our work in Indiana is not done.  All same-sex couples in Indiana need the security only marriage provides.”

DEM POLL SHOWS MICHAUD BACK IN LEAD: Michaud

Democracy for America, a group founded by former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, announced Thursday that its poll of 754 Maine voters finds openly gay U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud four points ahead of incumbent Republican Governor Paul LePage. Asked who they would vote for if the election were held today, 43 percent said Michaud, 39 percent said LePage, 15 percent said independent candidate Eliot Cutler, and three percent were undecided. Michaud and LePage have been running very close in polls in the past month. A Republican-leaning polling firm, Rasmussen Reports, called the race a tie based on data it gathered between April 23 and 25 from 830 “likely voters.” A Huffington Post analysis of 10 polls (but not the Democracy for America data) estimated Michaud at 40.6 percent, LePage at 37.9 percent, Cutler at 15.9 percent.

C_aikenAIKEN MAY FACE RUN-OFF:

There are 276 uncounted ballots in openly gay U.S. House candidate Clay Aiken’s Democratic primary race against two competitors in North Carolina’s Congressional District 2. That doesn’t give second-place candidate Keith Crisco a chance to catch up to Aiken, who has a 369-vote lead. But it could give him enough to drop Aiken’s vote tally below the 40 percent margin needed to avoid a run-off. And the Raleigh News-Observer reported Thursday that business Keith Crisco has not conceded the race and that, if a run-off is necessary, it will take place in July.

© copyright 2014 by Keen News Service. All rights reserved.


ELECTION 2014: Historic Race For LGBT Americans In Maine

Matty 3
(Congressman Michaud and his campaign manager)

BY DAVID MIXNER

The path to equal rights for LGBT Americans has been filled with historic political milestones.

The elections of Massachusetts State Representative Elaine Noble and San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk to public office made history in the 1970's. Houston's Annise Parker and Seattle's Ed Murray made history by being elected mayor of their cities. The coming out of Congressman Barney Frank broke the glass ceiling in Congress. Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin became the first openly LGBT Senator in history in the last election.

MaineNow looming on the horizon in November is the possibility that the first openly gay governor could be elected in Maine. Democratic Congressman Mike Michaud is currently narrowly leading in the polls. The Democratic candidate 'came out' to the people of Maine at the beginning of the campaign.

LGBT history is waiting to be made one more time and the Tea Party is gearing up to stop it.

Maine's gubernatorial race has three candidates. The incumbent Tea Party Republican Governor Paul LePage, third party candidate Eliot Cutler, and Democratic Congressman Michaud. If Cutller wasn't in the race, Michaud would most likely win in a landslide.

In an interview for this column, Michaud's campaign manager Matthew McTighe said:

"Even though there are three candidates, it's clearly shaping up to be a close two-way race between Mike Michaud and our current Tea Party governor, Paul LePage. All of the polls have the two of them within a few points of one another, with Mike ahead in most and the third-party candidate trailing way behind. But we feel very confident in our path to victory no matter how many candidates stay in the race."

MichaudWhen asked about the impact of the Congressman's coming out on his chances in November, McTighe responded:

"Honestly, it hasn't made much of a difference, at least not in the polls or in the growing momentum we've seen building for Mike's candidacy. I think that's a testament to the fact that Mainers have really come a long way on LGBT issues, which I know firsthand, having run the marriage equality campaign here in 2012. In 2009, voters in Maine rejected marriage, but just three years later we won convincingly. Moreover, people know Mike. They trust him, they like him, and they know his coming out won't change who he is."

While there has been no serious 'gay-baiting' of Michaud yet, it is expected that radical right-wing groups will create some nasty last minute ads and mailings in an attempt to derail his election. Interestingly many believe such attempts in Maine might backfired and assist the Congressman instead of hurting him.

The Washington Post column The Fix says that Maine voters are the second most likely to defeat an incumbent Governor. As a result, Republicans are gearing up around the country to pour money into the state. McTighe hopes that LGBT Americans and progressives will respond to this chance to make history.

"Well I wish it wasn't the case, but as you know money is critically important in high-profile races like this. The Republican Governors Association is going to spend millions to reelect Paul LePage, and they're already attacking Mike. We need the resources to defend against their attacks, and that will require a lot of help from people all over the country."

As a debate rages in the LGBT community who should get credit for making history, here is an opportunity to look not backward but forward. Help Congressman Michaud and his team out HERE if you so wish. Without question this is one of the community's most important races in 2014.


Maine GOP Platform Reaffirms Opposition to Gay Marriage

The Maine Republican Party has just voted to adopt a new platform, but anyone at the convention hoping the party would moderate its tone on gay rights walked away disappointed.

The Huffington Post reports:

MEGOPState party officials adopted the platform Friday, as their convention kicked off, according to the Associated Press. The platform defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The 2012 platform had a similar definition of marriage.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R), who is running for reelection, also opposes same-sex marriage, which is nevertheless legal in the state. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), who has pushed for LGBT equality in some areas, has not yet come out in support of marriage equality.

Earlier this month, the Nevada Republican Party voted “amid raucous debate” to drop opposition to gay marriage from the party’s platform. 


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