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S4MM and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland: Hiding The Money In Maine?

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Here we go yet AGAIN, folks!

I’ve said it before and will say it again: Portland Diocese and Bishop Malone! Show Us The MONEEEEEEY!!!11!!

Next weekend, Bishop Richard Malone has asked Maine churches to pass the collection plate AGAIN.

Maine’s Catholic church continues to be active in the fight against same sex marriage.

The bishop has asked churches to take up a special second collection next weekend to support Stand For Marriage Maine, the group leading the effort to repeal Maine’s same sex marriage law.

A “SECOND COLLECTION”? 2 bites of the “Let’s donate cash anonymously via our tax exempt church/ non-declared PAC!” ?

And announced a full week in advance, so the sheeple can be sure to withdraw non-traceable and non-reporter CASH for these donations.

Explain to me how this undisclosed information is NOT money laundering and IS legal!

But before the parishioners hit the ATMs and open their wallets, they may want to question the bishop regarding this first- yet MORE churches up for sale!

This is in addition to the others discussed this summer!

Maine’s Catholic diocese is closing five more churches because of tight finances and changing demographics.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland says Notre Dame de Lourdes church in Saco and St. Mary of the Assumption church in neighboring Biddeford will close at the end of the year. St. Andre church in Biddeford will close at the end of 2010.

In Lewiston, St. Joseph and St. Patrick Catholic churches will close sometime in October.

Church officials say the Catholic population in those areas is declining, the number of weddings is down sharply and the weekly collections have been dropping about 10 percent a year. At the same time, expenses for employee health benefits and building maintenance and repair have been rising.

Again, a reminder of the DISCLOSED donations to S4MM:

Catholic organizations and anti-gay groups were the most noteworthy donors:

• National Organization for Marriage donated $160,000 in cash contributions and $9,066.43 in in-kind contributions;

Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland donated $100,000 in cash contributions and $10,339.73 in in-kind contributions;

• Focus on the Family’s Maine Marriage Committee donated $31,000 in cash contributions and $2,594.62 in in-kind contributions;

• Knights of Columbus donated $50,000 in cash contributions;

• and Maine Family Policy Council donated $625 in cash contributions.

Catholic organizations outside Maine also made major donations to the campaign. Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Evansville in Indiana and the Archdiocese of Santa Fe in New Mexico donated $1,000 each.

Seems to me that if one wants to donate money without EVER having to have their name disclosed for tax or legally mandated purposes, giving cash via your local “Catholic Church/ unofficial PAC” sure is a SWEEEET way to go!

Meanwhile, the Maine Ethics Commission may want to look QUITE a bit closer into both the above, as well as its current task of its investigation of whether or not laws were broken during SFMM’s signature gathering process.

For several months, the commission has been investigating Maine Leads.

Maine Leads is a self-described “do-tank,” as opposed to think-tank, according to commission documents. It lists among its missions being a “citizen initiative factory,” plus other duties typical of political advocacy groups: media relations, grassroots organizing, legislative lobbying, etc.

What’s atypical about Maine Leads, though, is it directly financed signature-gathering.

Usually, financing the signature-gathering is done by political action committees, or PACs, the regulated entities registered as express advocates or opponents of a electoral issue. (For example: Stand for Marriage Maine, the PAC for repealing same-sex marriage in Maine, paid National Petition Management of Michigan almost $250,000 for signature-gathering.

Those PACs had to file detailed statements with the ethics commission, describing where their funding is from and how it is spent. Maine Leads, however, has not, by claiming its overall mission, purpose and activities are different than a PAC, and therefore PAC disclosures do not apply.

The staff of the commission, in a memo released in advance of its meeting Tuesday, has said Maine Leads’ claim that it shouldn’t file disclosures is contrary to the intent of the state’s laws on campaign finance. The commission is set to decide this matter on Oct. 8.

The real concern is opaqueness of Leads’ finances which, according to commission documents, was largely derived from unnamed national nonprofits.

Voters and citizens should know who is funding political campaigns.

In Maine Leads’ case, its funding sources are unclear and unreported, despite the group’s significant financial support for signature-gathering for three ballot initiatives. The public should know which sponsors allowed Maine Leads to fund this activity.

This is the crux of the Maine Leads investigation. As a political advocate, the group is free to fund-raise and finance the activities of its choosing. When it comes to funding signature-gathering, however, voters should know who is bankrolling it.

(h/ts Blender Dan and Gerald of DirigoBlue)

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