NOM’s secret funding sources

Timothy Kincaid

January 5th, 2011

The National Organization for Marriage fights an on-going battle to keep secret the sources of its political expenditures, often flagrantly violating state and federal law to do so. Although it pretends that it is simply seeking to protect individual donors from persecution for their beliefs, NOM does not operate due to individual donors, but rather is a cover for a small handful of very wealthy individuals or organizations.

The Human Rights Campaign, through its NOM Exposed project, has received a copy of NOM’s 2009 Form 990, the IRS return required from non-profit organizations. This return is only for the political advocacy side of NOM (most political non-profits have both advocacy and educational entities so as to allow for some portion of their contributions to be deductible by the donor) and appears to either be redacted or to have been prepared in violation of federal law. The identifying donor information has been excluded.

However, while NOM does not list the names of major donors, it does list the amounts received from such donors. And the message is clear: NOM is the project of a small number of very significant contributors. Three donors alone gave more than a million dollars each and comprise 65% of the total revenues. Eleven additional major donors ranging from $400,000 to $5,000 bring the total of major donor contributions to 75%.

Were we to know the names of the donors, this might even further consolidate. Should, for example, each of the $5,000 contributions be separate diocese of some religious denomination, or various family members, or separate state branches of a political organization, then it might even be discovered that NOM is simply a shill, a front for a singular entity who wishes to secretly engage in politics.


January 5th, 2011

… seriously, what does it take to get these people investigated by a dozen or so state governments and the Fed?

Them and their “special rights” they’re demanding … argh.


January 5th, 2011

One of the three donors of a million or more has to be Alan C. Ashton. (Co-Founder of WordPerfect.)

I’m wondering where did Bruce Bastian (the other Co-Founder of WordPerfect) put his Million-Dollar donation for our side? Probably through HRC.

Interesting shuffling of huge amounts of money.

Timothy Kincaid

January 5th, 2011


Ashton and Bastion donated in 2008 for the Prop 8 battle. This 990 covers 2009

B John

January 5th, 2011

There has always been a reason they are fighting so hard to keep their donor’s secret. I suspect those legal cases are being funded by these same donors.

I’m guessing one or two families, who for whatever reason, have an anti-gay agenda to advance, but clearly don’t want the world to know. It has to come out sooner or later.

Lindoro Almaviva

January 5th, 2011

why the IRS has not taken their non-for-profit status in view of the many violations to the law is beyond me.

Timothy Kincaid

January 5th, 2011


That is a good question… but the answer is that it wouldn’t much matter.

For a 401(c) 4 type organization, the contributions to NOM are not deductible from the donor’s taxes. So it would have no noticeable impact to the donor.

Additionally, were NOM to be considered a for-profit corporation, they would pay tax only on that portion of income that exceeded expenses, which in 2009 would be zero. At worst, NOM faces filing fees – but likely not even that.

Thus the non-profit filing compliance is a formality and NOM knows that there is very little downside to breaking the law. Where they could run afoul is if television and newspapers refused to run ads for a criminal organization and as NOM refuses to follow the law, that is what they are. Additionally, candidates and propositions could be forced to return donations from NOM as they are a law-breaking front group.

It is not the IRS that is our savior on this, but if states insist that campaign laws be observed.


January 5th, 2011

$1.4 million of these funds has already been identified as coming from the Knights of Columbus. You may recall that they publicly acknowledged this last summer.

What of the remainder? I agree with Cowboy that Alan Ashton is a good candidate. However looking at his 2008 donations, it should be noted that he donated $1 million to Yes on 8 only after Bastian donated $1 million to No on 8. He was acting to cancel out his former WordPerfect co-founder’s donation dollar for dollar. He probably saw it as his duty to make sure that dollars reaped from the sale of WordPerfect did not result in a net gain for gay marriage.

Bastian has not made any large public donations on marriage since then. He donated only $6,000 to No on 1 in Maine. This was a direct donation, and it was disclosed. He might have routed further donations through HRC, but the most that could be is $95K.

Ashton did not make any direct donation to Yes on 1. Ashton could well have opted to counter the Bastian donation via a contribution routed (or laundered) through NOM. But it is no sure bet that he would put in another million when Bastian only went for 6K publicly and at most $100K total.

I think the other candidates for big money donations are Elsa Prince and Howard Ahmanson (who makes his political contributions through a company called Fieldstead). Both of these people gave heavily to Yes on 8 and have vast sums to spend.

On the lower end of the giving spectrum: I would not be surprised to see Focus on the Family donating amounts in the tens of thousands of dollars. I doubt they would go much higher than that, but it would be to their advantage to launder donations through NOM given their mass layoffs in 2009.

Finally, I would not be surprised to see a new name pop up. A high net worth Mormon or Catholic who may have been a small donor previously but who has been urged by his religious leaders to cough up. I also note that Pat Robertson, who has a net worth well into the 9 figures, was curiously absent from the Prop 8 and Question 1 donor lists.


January 5th, 2011

People still use WordPerfect?


January 6th, 2011

The term of reference “separate dioceses” might be better served if the words “separate stakes” were used. Clearly it was the Mormons who funded the Prop. H8 and other anti-marriage equality campaigns to a much larger extent than the Roman Catholic Church and/or its Knights of Columbus.

Emily K

January 6th, 2011

Malcolm, are you in the Santa Clara Vanguard? I marched Crossmen. :]


January 8th, 2011

I wouldn’t be surprised if Tom Monaghan is one of the big donors.

The real question is imho “Who actually trusts Maggie Srinavastav with serious money?” I seriously wonder whether she isn’t mostly used as a distraction and flak catcher while the backdoor operators ;) of the Tony Perkins/Chuck Colson famiglia do the serious lifting of going to the conservative clergy and congregations and internal organizations.

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