Op-ed: NOM Can’t Shut Me Down
Taking on the Mormon Church and the National Organization for Marriage certainly has consequences. After establishing my organization, Californians Against Hate, in 2008, I filed an ethics complaint with the state of California contending that the Mormon Church had sent sizable donations to support Proposition 8. The donations were mostly unreported, which violates California law, prompting the Fair Political Practices Commission of California to investigate several donations that came in the form of commercials, phone bank operations, and a website, all paid for by the church.
After the FPPC prosecuted and investigated the church for 18 months, the LDS Church pleaded guilty to 13 counts of election fraud and was fined. This was an unprecedented action by the commission.
However, this led me to realize that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or the Mormon Church, was largely behind the creation of NOM in the first place. This was nothing new; in other states where marriage equality was on the line, church leaders had created groups to act as the public face of the antigay marriage movement.
The church dispatched Mormon Apostle Jeffrey Holland’s son Matthew S. Holland to help establish NOM and serve on its original five-member board. Holland was later replaced with science fiction writer Orson Scott Card, and Arizona businessmen Broc Haitt and Craig Cardon, all three being wealthy, prominent Mormon Church members. The LDS Church still appears to be the brainpower and financial force behind NOM.
In the years since the formation of Californians Against Hate, it became apparent that NOM regularly skirts the campaign reporting laws in any state where they are attempting to stop marriage equality. I filed sworn complaints against NOM in Maine, California, Iowa, and Hawaii, and all four complaints led to state ethics investigations of NOM.
My sworn complaint last summer led to the current investigation of NOM by the Federal Election Commission. I accused NOM of a $1 million pay-to-play scheme to help Rick Santorum’s campaign for president in Iowa.
During and after the Prop. 8 campaign I led successful boycotts of five of the largest donors to the Yes on Prop. 8 campaign, and to NOM.
Needless to say, the Mormon Church and NOM are not too happy with me.
NOM and friends tried to shut me down back in 2009 when they attempted to subpoena me in a federal lawsuit just 10 days after I filed my ethics complaint against them in Maine. We spent over a year and $20,000 fighting that subpoena, which was designed solely to scare me away. Their intimidation didn’t work then, and it’s not going to work now.
Last year NOM sued the IRS. In the lawsuit, NOM devoted several paragraphs to me and my constitutionally protected filing of the ethics complaint I filed against them with California’s FPPC. So once against NOM is dragging me into a federal lawsuit to harass and try to silence me.
On Wednesday, the Department of Justice and NOM’s lawyers deposed me at the U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles. This comes after a subpoena ordered me to produce what turned out to be 4 pounds of documents, emails, texts, press coverage, notes, and other records and send them to the Justice Department.
All the state and federal investigations that I have triggered have cost NOM millions of dollars. Now angry NOM head Brian Brown and his lawyers want to put me out of business.
That ain’t gonna happen.
I will never give up going after Brian Brown, Maggie Gallagher, NOM, and even the Mormon Church for all their illegal activities and bullying. These hate groups should never be given a free ride to spend millions and millions of dollars every year to hurt LGBT young people and destroy lives.
FRED KARGER is a political consultant, activist, and former presidential candidate. Follow him on twitter @FredKarger.