Link here to the temporary restraining order NOM tried unsuccessfully to get Bangor’s United States District Court against Commissioner Walter McKee, as to block the Ethics Commission from obtaining info.
In news that pleases me greatly to report, the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices voted this past Thursday that National Organization of Marriage must testify before the commission.
Audio and past meetings’ minutes link here– the most recent minutes are not yet available.
From Kennebec Journal:
An out-of-state organization that funded much of last year’s successful campaign against same-sex marriage must testify before The Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices, the commission voted Thursday.
The panel is conducting an investigation into possible violation of Maine’s campaign finance disclosure laws. On Thursday, it rejected requests by the organization to drop two subpoenas the panel issued in its investigation.
National Organization for Marriage did not register as a political action committee here, and the ethics commission wants to know who donated to the organization, and for what purpose.
“If NOM received contributions totaling more than $5,000 for the purpose of influencing or promoting the referendum, it was required to register with the commission in 2009 and file campaign finance reports,” ethics commission Executive Director Jonathan Wayne said.
A National Organization for Marriage attorney responded Feb. 11 by asking the commission to drop the subpoenas, calling them “overbroad, irrelevant and immaterial.”
The organization, which did not send a representative to Thursday’s hearing, said donor disclosure “could have a chilling effect” on its fundraising and Stand for Marriage Maine’s “ability to engage in effective campaign advocacy.”
The commission was not swayed by this argument one bit and rejected it soundly.
“I think that, if we’re going to have a meaningful investigation, this pretty basic discovery should be allowed,” said the commission Chairman Walter McKee, “especially when this material will be kept confidential.”
There appears to have been either a sloppy laziness on NOM’s part, or total disregard for Maine’s laws- especially considering the care the organization took to follow California’s laws in their 2008 Prop 8 campaign.
In 2008, National Organization for Marriage raised millions in support of the successful constitutional amendment in California known as Proposition 8, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman. In that campaign, the group formed a political action committee and reported its donors as required by California law.
“For some reason, in 2009 in Maine they decided not to do that,” Wayne said. “NOM told donors they would not be disclosed. … I don’t know why they made that statement.”
Two subpoenas were issued to Brian Brown on January 28th for him to appear before the commission on February 18th. Now the question is: what penalties NOM/ Brian Brown are now facing for ignoring them?