Did the Mormon Church Cheat?
Californians Against Hate, the extraordinary activist group that produced the Grannie Blackwater ad and the Dishonor Roll of Prop 8 contributors, filed a complaint against the Mormon Church with the California Fair Political Practices Commission, the body that regulates campaign activity, alleging hundreds of thousands of dollars of unreported in-kind contributions to the Prop 8 campaign.
From the AP:
Fred Karger, the founder of Californians Against Hate, submitted the complaint to the enforcement division of the California Fair Political Practices Commission, the agency that regulates campaign activity.
Karger alleges that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ran out-of-state phone banks, produced commercials and provided other services that must be reported as contributions to the Proposition 8 campaign.
"Let’s be transparent here. If they are going to play in the political process, they need to abide by the rules like everyone else," he said.
Karger also notified the attorneys general of California and Utah, where the Mormon church is based.
According to campaign filings, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints itself contributed only $2,078.97 to the coalition that supported Prop 8 — as an in-kind donation. No other contributions are reported in the church’s name, although other churches and religious groups have reported hundreds of thousands of dollars in support of the measure.
The Fair Political Practices Commission has 14 days to respond to Karger’s allegations. The agency could decide to open an investigation, to warn the party named in the complaint or conclude no action is needed, according to commission spokesman Roman Porter.
The complaint (full text here) charges that the Mormon Church never reported these in-kind contributions to the YES campaign, and requests a full examination by the state agency:
· Church organized phone banks from Utah and Idaho
· Sending direct mail to voters
· Transported people to California over several weekends
· Used the LDS Press Office to send out multiple News Releases to promote their activities to nonmembers
· Walked precincts
· Ran a speakers bureau
· Distributed thousands of lawn signs and other campaign material
· Organized a “surge to election day”
· Church leaders travel to California
· Set up of very elaborate web sites
· Produced at least 9 commercials and 4 other video broadcasts all in support of Prop 8
· Conducted at least 2 satellite simulcasts over 5 Western states.
For your enjoyment, here’s another look at the Grannie Blackwater ad produced by Californians Against Hate. Grannie Blackwater’s not a Mormon, but this ad shows that this group plays hardball. I think their complaint, which clearly has merit, will hit a nerve too.