Campaign leaders seek to shake down small businesses.
October 23rd, 2008
CBS8 and the Associated Press are reporting that the Yes on 8 campaign has sent out threatening letters to several small businesses in an attempt to shake them down for contributions.
San Diego realtor Jim Abbot received one of those letters featuring a Yes on 8 letterhead demanding that he contribute $10,000 to the Yes on 8 campaign, which is equal to the amount that he had given to the No on 8 campaign. That letter read, in part:
Equality California is advertising on its website that it has received a contribution of at least $10,000 from you. … Make a donation of a like amount to ProtectMarriage.com which will help us correct this error and restore Traditional Marriage. … Were you to elect not to donate comparably, it would be a clear indication that you are in opposition to traditional marriage. You would leave us no other reasonable assumption. The names of any companies and organizations that choose not to donate in like manner to protectmarriage.com but have given to Equality California will be published.
Here is the entire Yes on 8 threat letter (PDF: 4KB/4 pages).
The letter was signed by four members of Yes on 8’s executive committee: campaign chairman Ron Prentice; Edward Dolejsi, executive director of the California Catholic Conference; Mark Jansson, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; and Andrew Pugno, ProtectMarriage.com’s lawyer. A donation form was included with the letter.
Jim Abbot, who married his same-sex partner at the end of August, refused to buckle:
We’re not caving, no. No, we’re going to support our employees. We’re going to support the freedom to marry. We think that’s a fundamental right to do what we can to make sure its not taken away.
When Yes on 8 was first asked about the letter, a spokeswoman denied that their campaign would use such tactics. The campaign later admitted to sending about thirty-five letters to California businesses. The spokeswoman defended the action, citing the boycott of the San Diego Manchester Grand Hyatt after Doug Manchester donated $125,000 thousand to the Yes campaign. At least one very large group canceled their reservations as a result.
All large donations to either campaign are a matter of public record. There is no evidence however, that anyone from the No on 8 campaign demanded money from Manchester or the Grand Hyatt in exchange for silence. That boycott was organized by Californians Against Hate, which is not affiliated with the No on 8 campaign.
Update: Yes on 8 complained that at least one very large group canceled their reservations at the Machester Grand Hyatt because of publicity over donations to the Yes campaign. I wonder if that group they’re referring to was GLAAD?
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