I want to start with this a gripe. One of my ultimate pet peeves is when a headline or an email states something like “New Shocking NOM Documents Released”. I am about as shocked by these documents as I am that I have a cat in my room and red hair. In fact, I’m so shocked by these documents that I may never recover. . .ok, I’m recovered.
Alright, what appears to have happened is that Rights Equal Rights has apparently posted “ two heretofore unseen depositions given by Brian Brown, President of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). The 104 page court filing released today came about as a result of one of NOM”S federal lawsuits in Maine; National Organization for Marriage and American Principals in Action v. Walter F. McKee, et al Civil No.1:09-cv-00538.”
According to RER:
On October 1, 2009, the Maine Ethics Commission voted to conduct an investigation of the National Organization for Marriage for money laundering for its role in that state’s Amendment One election. Amendment One was placed on the ballot by NOM that year to take away the recently passed gay marriage law in Maine.
The original sworn complaint that led to the investigation of NOM was filed by Rights Equal Rights founder Fred Karger. Karger traveled to Maine on his first of three trips on October 1, 2009 to testify against NOM. The Maine Ethics Commission voted to investigate Karger’s charges that day, and within weeks NOM sued Maine to try to stop that investigation. NOM had refused to disclose it’s nearly $1.9 million in donations (page 55). Under Maine law a campaign committee such as NOM is required to report all contributions of $100 and above once it raises or spends $5,000 in an election. NOM refused to obey the Maine law then, and 2 ½ years later it still has not revealed the names of its donors (page 54).
Brian Brown Deposed Twice
NOM President Brian Brown was deposed on two separate occasions by Maine Assistant Attorney General Thomas Knowlton; first on May 26, 2010 and next on June 23, 2010. While some of Brown’s answers have been redacted, the information revealed by Mr. Knowlton’s excellent line of questioning is astonishing.
“Brian Brown’s testimony gives another revealing look into all the illegal, unethical and deceitful ways that the National Organization for Marriage has been operating for the past nearly five years,” said Karger. “Brown tries his best to dance around the truth and not answer Mr. Knowlton’s questions, but he is forced to reveal much about the inner working of his recognized hate group.” (pages 12, 22, 26, 32, 50, 52)
Both depositions read like a Perry Mason show. Mr. Knowlton first establishes exactly how familiar Brian Brown was with the intimate financial details of the many NOM State Organizations, PAC’s, Defense Funds, Education Funds, and other committees (pages 12, 22, 26, 32). Mr. Knowlton then asks Brown who gave NOM its three largest contributions in October of 2009, just weeks before the Maine November 3, 2009 election. The contributions were for $300,000 on October 1st, $1,000,000 on October 5th and $400,000 on October 9th. “I don’t recall,” said Brown, even though Mr. Knowlton had clearly established that Brown was on top of all of NOM’s finances (pages 84, 85, 88). He claimed that the nearly $2 million raised in October 2009 was for NOM’s general fund and not intended to be used in Maine even though most of the money raised was directly transferred to the Yes on One campaign.
Brown clearly appears to be lying throughout his 104 page depositions. NOM’s alleged illegal activities don’t even stop once the investigation into NOM’s money laundering begins. On October 1, 2009, the day the Maine Ethics Commission voted to investigate the National Organization for marriage for money laundering, Brown takes in the $300,000 check (page 84). Then the other two checks totaling $1.4 million (pages 85 and 88) come in over the next nine days.
“Brian Brown expects us to believe that the $1.7 million he raised from just three donors just a few weeks before the election was not raised for Maine? Does he think that we’re stupid?” asks Karger.
You can even tell when Brown appears to be lying, he stalls, rambles and says “you know” a lot (pages 60, 61, 72, 78, 80, 82, 84, 86, 88, 89, 94). In the five weeks before the November 3rd election, NOM raised $2 million directly and turned nearly all of the money over to Stand for Marriage Maine (page 89), the official campaign committee working to pass Amendment One.
“Here’s the head of an organization under investigation for money laundering and it takes in $2 million (page 54) after an investigation into its fundraising is underway, doesn’t report its donor’s names and then appears to lie about to the Attorney General under oath. All this is a result of the lawsuit that they brought forward. This news is clearly astounding,” added Karger.
Was There Intent to Break the Law?
It certainly appears that NOM goes into every state election it’s running to stop marriage equality with the intent to break that state’s election laws. NOM refuses to obey these longstanding laws and not report its millions of dollars in contributions. NOM clearly believes that it is above the law. Most state election violations carry civil penalties, but in certain states if election laws are broken with intent, then the penalties can be criminal and the guilty offenders can go to state prison.
“Those of us who are fighting for truth and transparency in elections owe a huge debt of gratitude to the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices and the Maine Attorney General’s office. They have pursued this long and costly investigation of the National Organization for Marriage and are defending all the resulting lawsuits that NOM has brought forth. Thank you Maine for leading the way to the truth,” concluded Karger.
Honestly, about the only way I could have been shocked by the documents is if they were to actually shoot voltage out of them. Really, they aren’t shocking. What they are is mildly incriminating and damning, and show that NOM’s law breaking is not being taken seriously.