Gay Activist Wants NOM Held in Contempt of Court

By Trudy Ring

Originally published on Advocate.com October 22 2012 8:03 PM ET

Gay activist and former Republican presidential aspirant Fred Karger wants the National Organization for Marriage to be held in contempt of court, but NOM officials say his demand is unjustified.

Karger last week sent a letter to a federal judge asking that NOM be held in contempt for failing to disclose the names of those who donated to it in this election cycle, Maine’s Portland Press Herald reports. The group has been working against a ballot initiative to enact marriage equality in Maine; it goes before voters in November.

It also has been in a legal battle to keep secret the names of its donors from the last Maine fight over marriage equality, in 2009. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld Maine’s law requiring the identification of donors who give for a specific political purpose, and state officials are investigating to see if NOM’s contributors fell into that category. NOM has said donors would be vulnerable to harassment if their names were made public and that disclosure laws violate the First Amendment.

“NOM continues to thumb its nose at Maine elections laws,” Karger wrote Judge D. Brock Hornby. “Some sort of meaningful action needs to be taken immediately to avoid NOM skirting the law yet again in Maine.”

NOM maintains that money spent in the current election cycle came from its general treasury, and it is not required to disclose donors to that fund. “NOM is in absolute compliance,” said Carroll Conley Jr., cochairman of Protect Marriage Maine, which received a $250,000 donation from NOM. “The Supreme Court did not require them to reveal the names of their donors who gave to their general fund.”

However, David Farmer, a spokesman for the pro-equality group Mainers United for Marriage, said it seems to him “that if they are raising money and earmarking it for Maine, they should be disclosing.”

No formal complaints about NOM’s activities have been submitted to Maine ethics commission this election cycle, executive director Jonathan Wayne told the Press Herald. He added, “The commission staff's investigation concerning NOM’s 2009 fund-raising is ongoing, and because of this year’s ballot question we are reviewing the financial activities of all the PACs acting on the marriage ballot question to make sure they are compliant based on their reporting.”