Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices has hit the National Organization for Marriage with a big fine (not huge, but apparently the biggest they’ve ever given in that state) for concealing its role in a 2009 fight over same-sex marriage.
Maine’s ethics commission voted unanimously Wednesday to impose a $50,250 fine on the nation’s leading organization opposing gay marriage, in a ruling that could affect the way nonprofit organizations attempt to influence Maine elections.
The vote followed an investigation in which the staff of the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices found that the National Organization for Marriage concealed its operations and donors during its successful bid to overturn Maine’s same-sex marriage law in 2009.The vote means that the state will require the organization to register as a ballot question committee and disclose its donors from the 2009 campaign…
In 2009, NOM poured more than $2 million into the $3 million referendum campaign to overturn the law that legislators passed and Gov. John Baldacci signed. The law never took effect.
Brian Brown, the group’s executive director, was an operating officer of Stand for Marriage Maine, the Maine-based ballot question committee that registered with the state. Before their vote Wednesday, ethics commission members argued that Brown’s dual role allowed the organization to shield its donors and skirt Maine’s donor disclosure law.
The ethics investigation cited bank statements and campaign literature to show that the organization used its nonprofit status to draw donations earmarked for the Maine referendum – a violation of Maine election law.
They’re going to appeal the ruling, of course.