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Californians Against Hate: Mormon-Established “Front Group” Handled Early Prop 8 Finances

Jim Burroway

March 20th, 2009

Fred Karger of Californians Against Hate has been leading the legal battle to force the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS) to reveal its full involvement in California’s Yes on 8 campaign as required by state law. Karger filed a supplemental complaint on Wednesday with California’s Fair Political Practices committee charging that the Mormon church failed to reveal its earlier involvement in Prop 8, particularly through a front organization they had set up called the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) in the summer of 2007. This front group is similar to one the LDS church set up in Hawaii ten years earlier.

Karger charges that while early donations by several prominent Catholic doners were reported as required by law (Including hotel owner Doug Manchester [125,000], Terry Caster and his family who own A-1 Self Storage [$283,000], car dealer [Robert Hoehn [$25,000] and the Knights of Columbus [$250,000]), none of the early Mormon contributors are listed. Karger asks:

Did they do polling as they did in Hawaii? Did the Church incur legal bills as they did in Hawaii? How about travel expenses, as in Hawaii? What about staff time, as they reported after the fact in California? These expenses should be easy to identify as a part of the current investigation.

The Mormon Church engages in extensive record keeping. All requests for funds are assigned an 11 digit Cost Center Number (i.e. 123-4567-899). Cost Center records should be readily available for 2007 and 2008, which would show all the money spent to create NOM. Additionally, the Mormon Church maintains records on its “Historical Material Management System” (HMMS).

Mormon Elders M. Russell Ballard, Quentin L. Cook and L. Whitney Clayton were all working on California’s Proposition 8 and their files and records should be able to substantiate these charges.
The Mormon Church should have disclosed all non monetary contributions made during the relevant reporting periods.

Documentation related to the LDS church’s activities have been uploaded to a new web site established by Fred Karger at Mormongate.com.

Karger filed his original complaint on November 13, 2008, charging that the LDS church had failed to report its monetary and non-monetary contributions to the passage of Proposition 8. The following day, the Mormon Church spokesman Scott Trotter responded through the LDS-owned newspaper, the Deseret News, that the allegations were “false” and that the complaint had “many errors and misstatements.” But on January 30, 2009, the Mormon church revealed that it was they who had lied about their financial involvement in the Prop 8 campaign.

Comments

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henry
March 20th, 2009 | LINK

Thanks for the update on this issue.

It is good that the spotlight is shining on the Mormon (LDS) Church to ensure that they fully complied with all of the applicable campaign finance and election laws in California.

jeff
March 20th, 2009 | LINK

It is unclear if the LDS Church considered the short- and long-term impacts of its involvement in the passage of Proposition 8 in California.

I have collected a number of articles from a range of publications that analyzes the impacts of this involvement. It is at http://www.prop8-lds.4t.com.

John
March 20th, 2009 | LINK

All of this dishonesty and trying to hide their involvement is really worrying from a democratic point of view. It is important to know who is behind ballot measures and candidates. The mormons have gone out of their way with propaganda to portray themselves and anything but a threat to other Americans. These underhanded election tactics are really worrisome, particularly when you realize how close their candidate came to getting the Republican nomination.

cowboy
March 20th, 2009 | LINK

Do not interpret this as a defense of the LDS Church but aside from being secretive have they done anything illegal in regards to their politic machinations?

Accountants and legal advisors make errors and have to re-submit correct financial statements all the time. A lot of accounting rules are subjective and open to various interpretations. It’s human to make mistakes especially on complex political and tax issues. I give some latitude to the LDS Church to make good on revising their monetary contributions to NOM.

Being secretive is not illegal in all cases. The LDS Church knows how to work the system to its advantage. Getting their “Saints” to individually get politically active is not against the law.

We have to admit the LDS Church has cleverly exploited the avenues for getting their political motives enacted but have they done it illegally?

Again, I’m not defending their ethics nor their cause.

John
March 20th, 2009 | LINK

cowboy,

I did not say that being secretive is illegal. Lying on campaign forms is though illegal.

The real point that I want to make is that non-mormons have no reason to trust mormons based on their previous behavior, and would be wise to be suspicious of any mormon political involvement.

The morons have consistently lied thoughout the Prop 8 campaign (as they did in Hawaii, Alaska, and everywhere else they have been active). They lie constantly about political issues and their involvement. Why are they so secretive? What don’t they want the rest of us to know? What are their real goals? And are these goals compatible with what is good for the rest of America?

I have come to the very strong conclusion that mormon goals cannot be of benefit to the rest of America if they have to be peddled in such underhanded ways.

cowboy
March 20th, 2009 | LINK

John,

I appreciate what you are saying. It does seem underhanded. Not the way I would think a Church should act or be associated with people who do such actions.

That is why I have a hard time in understanding…how can a Church with a bevy of highly intelligent (read: top-notch) lawyers and the best PR money can buy would align themselves with such unscrupulous antics. They had to know there were lies told in the campaign. Even a BYU adjunct law professor said so in an open letter to his fellow Saints. It was a warning to the LDS Church to be aware of the untruths and the consequences. Apparently, his warnings and clear dissertation of the flaws in logic went unheeded by LDS members.

I guess the admonishments by the Mormon Prophet T. S. Monson to “do all they can to win” trumps what a lowly BYU professor writes in a blog.

I’m thinking the LDS Church might say they didn’t sanction those lies propagandized during the campaign. Maybe they weren’t directly involved in the misleading ad campaign. Of course, I was not in California (or Arizona) and I did not witness the misleading ads. So, I can’t say how the LDS Church was involved officially.

I do know that a few LDS Wards had read the “scare tactics” about gay marriage in their meetings and had discussions in their Relief Society and Priesthood meetings. However, I want to classify this as rouge actions by some Bishops and over-zealous Saints. I know I have Mormon friends and close family who understand the lies and misrepresentations of facts during the campaign. They are truly embarrassed by the some actions by rouge members of the Church.

I think a BTB commenter: Seth R (a Mormon) has said he was not happy with the lies and misinformation promulgated in the campaign.

Yes, John, the danger now for the LDS Church: “Mormon” will be forever linked to a negative connotation about politics. When they boasted about their political might they never counted on the negativity associated with such power…whether done in secret or not.

Whenever something nasty in politics happens…we can say: “That’s so Mormon….”

cowboy
April 6th, 2009 | LINK

Update:
Former Utah Attorney General D. L. Wilkinson gave his opinion about Karger in a Letter-to-the-Editor at the Salt Lake Tribune:

http://www.sltrib.com/ci_12048631

He complains Mr. Karger is a hater of the Mormons and therefore a bit “oxymoronic” (his word).

As for any protests at this last weekend’s LDS General Conference: None by the gays. Gays are going to do service projects instead of chanting and demonstrating at Temple Square.

From the Priesthood Conference: Apostle Boyd K. Packard said that men should be men and act accordingly.

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