National Organization for Marriage Meddles in Iowa Politics After Previous Ethics Admonition

by HRC Staff

Will NOM Flaunt State Public Disclosure Laws by Hiding Donations for Use in Iowa Campaigns?

Washington- The Human Rights Campaign along with One Iowa, today called on the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) to comply with state disclosure laws and stop covering up donors to its political campaign activities, in light of reports that NOM is once again actively soliciting funds to use in Iowa campaigns.

"NOM isn't above the law in Iowa or anywhere else," said Fred Sainz, vice president of communications and marketing at the Human Rights Campaign. "The public is entitled to know who is behind NOM's efforts to secretly finance candidates who would strip Iowans of their marriage rights. It's time for NOM to own up and follow campaign disclosure laws that are essential to a functioning democracy."

"This is about out-of-state extremists trying to influence Iowa elections and deny Iowans of their rights," said One Iowa Executive Director Carolyn Jenison. "If NOM chooses to play politics with the lives of gay and lesbian Iowans, they must follow our laws and play by our rules."

This week, NOM reportedly robocalled Iowa voters asking for money to help oust lawmakers and judges who support marriage equality in advance of its sham "Summer for Marriage" bus tour making stops in Iowa. The automated call stated that NOM has received a "challenge grant" of up to $2 million and is working to raise matching funds.

When NOM last meddled in Iowa elections it did so without properly disclosing its activities. In August 2009, NOM spent a staggering $86,000 on ads in a single legislative special election attempting to elect an anti-equality candidate, part of its efforts to get a constitutional amendment reversing the state Supreme Court's unanimous decision recognizing marriage equality. In a nationwide e-mail NOM flaunted state law by telling donors that "best of allテ NOM has the ability to protect donor identitiesテ" These fundraising tactics prompted complaints and a warning letter from the state ethics board to NOM stating that the law requires disclosure of political contributions solicited for its Iowa campaign. The letter from the state warned NOM that the "independent expenditure process in Iowa is not a vehicle to shield political contributors."

"The door is closing on NOM's radical nationwide efforts to evade long-established public disclosure laws and to hide its political activities from legitimate scrutiny and accountability," added Sainz. "If NOM wants to be involved in elections in Iowa or anywhere else, then it's going to have to follow the law."

NOM has falsely alleged that their donors have been harassed and intimidated across the country to justify why it shouldn't have to disclose contributors to its political efforts. These tactics have prompted an ongoing state ethics investigation in Maine and recent court defeats across the country. In Washington state, NOM's lawyers fought the state's public records law all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court - and lost. A federal court in California similarly rejected NOM's efforts to hide its donors and debunked its claims of harassment and intimidation in the wake of Proposition 8.

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all.

One Iowa is the state's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) advocacy organization, committed to full equality for LGBT individuals, including the freedom to marry.

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