Friday, October 30, 2009

Judge Says Maine Can Make The National Organization for Marriage Disclose Donors - Lez Get Real

Lets see Maggie and Brian get out of this one.

Judge Says Maine Can Make The National Organization for Marriage Disclose Donors - Lez Get Real

10/29/09-by Paula Brooks12428056781461336248Seal_of_Maine.svg.med_phixr
A federal judge has ruled that Maine’s reporting requirements for ballot question campaigns do not violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as claimed in a lawsuit filed last week by the National Organization for Marriage and has said the State of Maine can compel the National Organization for Marriage to disclose the identities of donors who contributed to its effort to repeal Maine’s gay-marriage law.

On Oct. 1, the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices voted 3-2 to investigate the fundraising practices of the National Organization for Marriage. One concern is whether the group has violated state law by not registering as a “ballot question committee” and by withholding its contribution records. Maine law requires any individual or group that raises or spends more than $5,000 to influence a ballot question vote to disclose contributors who gave more than $100 for that purpose.

Judge D. Brock Hornby order on Wednesday denied the request for a temporary restraining order, and said the National Organization for Marriage is not likely to succeed on any of its claims. Nom had asked for a temporary restraining order that would have let it operate outside of the state’s reporting requirements while the lawsuit was pending.

“Maine is entitled to conclude that its electorate needs to know, on an ongoing basis, the source of financial support for those who are taking positions on a ballot initiative,” Hornby wrote in his 32-page ruling.

“I conclude that the state’s interest to provide this information to voters is ‘not only compelling but critical’ to the proper functioning of the system of direct democracy,” Hornby wrote, quoting from a similar case in California in which the National Organization for Marriage is a plaintiff.

Reinforced by Hornby’s ruling, Maine’s attorney general challenged the advocacy group Wednesday night to make its records public before next week’s vote on Question 1.

“We are not going to give them legal advice. We trust that their legal counsel will advise them to comply fully,” said Attorney General Janet Mills. “The court has ruled that it is in the public interest to do so, and the law couldn’t be clearer.

“I would hope that they would file before the election,” Mills said. “Why not? What is there to hide?

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