Below is the link to today’s NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL in support of the investigation by the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) of the Mormon Church re Prop 8. I filed the complaint on November 13th and the FPPC agreed to launch an investigation this week.
Californians Against Hate
The Prop 8 Campaign Money
Published: November 29, 2008
California’s fair-elections commission is investigating a complaint against the Mormon Church’s role in campaigning for Proposition 8, which made marriage illegal between people of the same sex. Based on the facts that have come out so far, the state is right to look into whether the church broke state laws by failing to report campaign-related expenditures.
Proposition 8, which California voters passed on Nov. 4, overturned a ruling by the California Supreme Court and wrote discrimination against one particular group of people into the State Constitution. After it passed, tens of thousands of people rallied in cities across the country in support of same-sex marriage. The California Supreme Court said recently that it would review whether Proposition 8 was constitutional.
Mormons were a major force behind the ballot measure. Individual church members contributed millions of dollars and acted as campaign foot soldiers. The church itself also played an unusually large role. Michael R. Otterson, the managing director of public affairs for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — the full name of the Mormons’ church — said that while the church speaks out on other issues, like abortion, “we don’t get involved to the degree we did on this.”
Fred Karger, the founder of a group called Californians Against Hate, who filed the complaint, contends that the Mormon Church provided significant contributions to the pro-Proposition 8 campaign that it did not report, as state law requires. The Fair Political Practices Commission of California is investigating, among other things, commercials, out-of-state phone banks and a Web site sponsored by the church.
If the commission finds that the church violated state reporting laws, it could impose penalties of up to $5,000 per violation, and sue for additional amounts. The Mormon Church, which says it is sending information to the commission, says it did nothing wrong.
Churches, which risk their tax-exempt status if they endorse candidates, have more leeway in referendum campaigns. Still, when they enter the political fray, they have the same obligation to follow the rules that nonreligious groups do.
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