Anti-Gay Donors Spooked
January 8th, 2009
The organizers behind Proposition 8 are suing to keep anti-gay donations secret (LA Times):
Proponents of a ballot measure that banned same sex marriage filed a lawsuit in federal court this week seeking to overturn state campaign finance laws that require that names and personal information of donors to state political campaigns be made public.
Their lawsuit (seen here) includes the following arguments
30. Plaintiffs and other supporters of Proposition 8 have been subjected to threats, harassment, and reprisals as a result of the support for Proposition 8…
31. The threats and harassment have included threatening phone calls, emails, and postcards…
32. Supporters of Proposition 8 have also had their personal property vandalized or destroyed…
Most of the anecdotes listed as evidence are trivial to the point of being laughable. For example, “Decl. of John Doe #4 (received email that read “I AM BOYCOTTING YOUR ORGANIZATION AS A RESULT OF YOUR SUPPORT OF PROP 8”)”
The basic gist of their argument is that political donations should be secret because otherwise that political support can have consequences such a loss of business or personal criticism.
They are asking that the court to
a. Declare all registration, reporting, and disclaimer requirements unconstitutional as applied to Committee Plaintiffs, Major Donors, and all other individuals and organizations holding similar views.
b. Enjoin [the Secretary of State] from enforcing all registration, reporting, and disclaimer requirements against Committee Plaintiffs, etc.
c. Expunge all records of Reports filed by Committee Plaintiffs, etc. on California’s campaign and reporting disclosure system.
It’s amusing to note that they are specifically asking that only those who supported Proposition 8 (those holding “similar views”) be excused from obeying reporting requirements. One might almost forget that it was this campaign that sent extortion letters to opponents of the Proposition.
This may seem odd at first. After all, these records have been downloaded and stored by scores of gay individuals and groups. It would take little effort for them to become public knowledge again immediately.
And challenges to this 1974 law have consistently lost over the years. It’s not likely that they will succeed this time.
The law was intended to prevent money laundering and to provide disclosure of who is making contributions to political campaigns. It has withstood several previous legal challenges. Experts on the 1st Amendment experts said they did not believe the suit stood much of a chance of success.
But Justin McLachlan noted
They’ve also asked the court to prevent the state from requiring them to file upcoming reports, due on Jan. 31, that they say will reveal the names of previously undisclosed campaign donors and they want protection from filing reports that reveal the names of their treasurer and campaign officers, like registration documents.
That’s an awful lot of expense and effort to go through on the off chance that the courts rule in their favor. Something makes me think that there is perhaps a bombshell hidden in the new reports, something that the campaign does not want to go public.
Let’s hope that Fred Karger and Californians Against Hate are ready to give it close scrutiny.