Archive for September, 2009

Fred Karger’s Statement on Being Subpoenaed

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

This is my statement on the subpoena that I received from the Protect Marriage Campaign & the National Organization for Marriage. These two powerful and rich organizations are trying to silence me.

My story was published in the Huffington Post yesterday.

Please take a few minutes to read it. Thank you very much!

Fred Karger

Link: Huffington Post

Fighting For Civil Rights Has Consequences

I think of myself as a citizen activist. But that hasn’t always been so.

I began my odyssey on July 18, 2008 when I called for a boycott against San Diego hotel owner Doug Manchester. Mr. Manchester gave $125,000 of very early money to qualify Proposition 8 for last November’s California ballot. Why spend our money at his two hotels, The Manchester Grand Hyatt and the Grand del Mar, only to have it used against us?

I then led three other boycotts of mega-donors to the campaign to end same-sex marriage in California. Terry Caster, who owns A-1 Self Storage with 40 locations throughout California, is our other ongoing boycott. Mr. Caster gave a whopping $693,000 to ban same-sex marriage in California. When he was asked why by a reporter from the San Diego Union-Tribune he replied, “those kinds of marriages would create a ‘sick society.’”

Two other boycotts were settled after meeting with their CEOs. The founder of Bolthouse Farms gave $100,000 to Prop 8, and the Garff family of Salt Lake City’s Garff Automotive Group also gave $100,000 to Yes on 8. Both companies are now very active and generous supporters of the LGBT community.
And then there is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church). They raised and spent an inordinate amount of money, $30 million of the $40 million Yes on 8 raised, yet the church only reported $2,200 in non-monetary contributions.

So, I filed a complaint with the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). Although the FPPC investigates fewer than 5% of the complaints it receives, it continues to investigate my charges of numerous campaign reporting violations by the Mormon Church. That ongoing investigation (FPPC Case #08/735) is
in its tenth month.

I have also been focusing much attention on the National Organization for Marriage (NOM). It has so many similarities to numerous other Mormon Church created front groups, that I filed a supplemental complaint with the FPPC and asked them to investigate.

Apparently, NOM feels it is above the law. It decided to hide its federally required tax forms for 2007 and 2008. They don’t want anybody to see how they spend their millions and millions of dollars. I have filed numerous complaints with the IRS, and have called for a Congressional investigation of this two year old National Organization for Marriage.

Finally, I filed a complaint in Maine dealing with the campaign there to ban same-sex marriage. 99.999% of all the money raised to hire the professional signature gathering firm to qualify Question 1 for the November 3, 2009 ballot came from only four religious organizations. Those were: NOM ($160,000), the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland ($100,000), the Knights of Columbus of Washington DC — a two person office — ($50,000) and Focus on the Family ($31,000). Money laundering charges will be heard by the State of Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices on October 1st against the campaign committee, Stand for Marriage Maine and the National Organization for Marriage. The five member commission will hold its hearing in Augusta to decide if they, too are going to investigate NOM.

It appears that I have angered some pretty powerful people.

On Saturday morning, September 5, 2009 I was served a subpoena in a federal lawsuit where the old Prop 8 campaign committee, ProtectMarriage.com has filed suit against every major California election official from the Attorney General, Secretary of State, all five commissioners of the FPPC (who are in the middle of the investigation of the Mormon Church) to the big county registrars of voters. The lawsuit attempts to end reporting of contributor names in California. California was the first state in the nation to implement this type of law when the voters passed the Political Reform Act of 1974. It has worked well over the past 35 years, but NOM and its allies obviously do not believe in transparency.

By subpoenaing me, they are forcing me to spend lots of money on attorneys to represent me throughout the proceedings.

The subpoena calls for me to produce all emails, correspondence, faxes and all stored information that deal with my activities with Californians Against Hate from January 18, 2008 to the present. They demand to see all correspondence pertaining to three of my four web sites: www.CaliforniansAgainstHate.com , www.BoycottManchesterHotels.com, and www.BoycottA-1SelfStorrage.com. They left one out. It is our second most visited web site: www.Mormongate.com. Must have been an oversight.

They have also demanded to know how I received all of our research information and how it was disseminated. They also want to see “any and all” financial records. How ironic, I have been trying to view the required financial information from NOM for over 6 months. NOM refuses to release any of its finances, even to the IRS, as required by federal law. The Mormon Church will also not reveal any of its expenditures.

So what better way to persecute me, than to drag me through the legal system.

Unlike all these mega-organizations, it is just my laptop and me. I really am a citizen activist.
It has been a real rollercoaster of emotions over the past 14 days. Last Tuesday, the state’s top legal newspaper, the Daily Journal ran a front page story about my plight. It is a great article by reporter Matthew Pordum.

Well, that triggered an outpouring of calls, emails, Facebook messages, tweets, you name it. The first call that I got was from Cleve Jones, Harvey Milk’s former aide, and one of the leading LGBT activists in the country. “What can I do to help?” he asked.

Wow, then it really hit me, I am not in this alone. It has been pretty much non-stop all day, every day. Lots of lawyers calling and offering assistance — some I knew, many I didn’t. I received so many offers of help, including some of the most moving notes of support that I could ever imagine. This has been quite the emotional experience.

In my 59 1/2 years, I have never been subpoenaed, but there is a first time for everything.
So to everyone who reached out to me, and to those who back my efforts, a big thank you for believing in me. I feel we must stand up to those whose goal is to destroy the LGBT community.

Our opponents want to send a message to all of us that we are second class citizens, who are not entitled to the same rights as our mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles, co-workers, neighbors and our friends who happen to be straight.

This will not deter me. I will continue to bring attention to those companies and individuals who spend millions and millions of dollars to stop us from attaining full and equal civil rights.

EQCA & Courage Campaign Join Manchester Hotels Boycott

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

September 21, 2009

Doug Manchester, the wealthy hotel owner who donated $125,000 in critical seed money to put Prop. 8 on the ballot, has launched a cynical public relations campaign by trying to buy off EQCA with a $25,000 donation.

We said no to Doug Manchester. Will you join us?

Launched in the summer of 2008 by Californians Against Hate and Cleve Jones, the highly successful boycott is believed to have cost Manchester’s Grand Hyatt more than $7 million in lost business.

To keep putting pressure on Doug Manchester, EQCA and the Courage Campaign are launching the new “Say No To Manchester” web site along with UNITE HERE and Californians Against Hate.

Join the boycott by adding your name to the pledge.
http://www.SayNoToManchester.com/Pledge

By signing, you will urge Doug Manchester to make a public apology for his $125,000 donation to Prop. 8 and negotiate an honest, fair resolution with boycott organizers.

Please, sign up today and pledge your support.

In solidarity,
Geoff KorsExecutive DirectorEquality California

Gay GOPer has star role in same-sex marriage fight

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

Gay GOPer has star role in same-sex marriage fight

Published 09/17/2009
by Matthew S. Bajko
m.bajko@ebar.com

LINK TO STORY

A sought after Republican campaign adviser for three decades beginning in the 1970s, Fred Karger called it quits and retired nearly five and half years ago. During his time working to elect GOP politicians, such as former state senator and then-California Governor George Deukmejian, Karger remained in the closet.

After leaving the political world, he split his time between homes in Los Angeles and Laguna Beach. He probably would have stayed silent about his being gay had his idle seaside lifestyle not wore thin.

But Karger became restless and his political instincts called out to be put to use.
“I was a closeted political aide for decades,” said Karger, 59, who considers himself a moderate Republican and worked for The Dolphin Group, whose clients have included Presidents Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, and the senior George Bush.

In a twist of fate that would propel Karger to break his silence and thrust him into the media spotlight, it was the threat of losing a famed Southern California gay bar that would forever change his life.

Back in 2006 a developer bought the building housing the Boom Boom Room, which for 60 years had operated out of a hotel nestled above Laguna Beach’s coastline. Shocked at losing an LGBT institution, Karger launched a campaign to save the gay bar. In the process, he came out publicly, first in the local Laguna Beach paper and then in a cover profile in the Los Angeles Times’ Sunday magazine.

“I wasn’t taken seriously at first with the Save the Boom campaign. Then right before the L.A. Times piece came out we won a reprieve,” said Karger, referring to the developer’s decision to put off his plans for a year. [The club shuttered last year after its lease expired, but activists are still pushing to see it reopen since the building has yet to be demolished.] “It was this huge profile with 12 photos of me, one even ran on the cover. Then everyone knew I was gay. It was a major hurdle for me.”
His newfound activist role didn’t end there. Last year Karger was astounded to read how much money anti-gay groups pushing Proposition 8, the voter-approved same-sex marriage ban, were able to raise in San Diego, a place he knew well from his political campaign work.

“It was surprising because it is not a socially conservative place,” said Karger, who was especially irked to see hotel mogul Doug Manchester “gloating” about donating $125,000 to help put Prop 8 on the ballot.

Another quote in the news article also struck a chord with Karger.
“This one guy said we should boycott these businesses supporting the anti-gay groups,” recalled Karger.

Fred Karger founded Californians Against Hate: Photo courtesy of Fred Karger
Inspired, Karger founded Californians Against Hate, a 501(c)4 organization, and set out to do just that; he led a successful boycott of Manchester’s hotels that continues to this day. Knowing how to draw a media crowd, he chose to launch the boycott the Friday of San Diego’s Pride weekend and invited parade grand marshals Cleve Jones, founder of the AIDS Quilt, and Gilbert Baker , creator of the rainbow flag, to speak.

“My bottom line is you have to change people’s opinions. You got to think big,” said Karger, who donated $2,500 of his own money to the No on 8 efforts. “Our target is straight women throughout the country. We have gay people with us, and straight men are not as likely to be with us. But straight women are more likely to be with us.”

He then set his sights on the donor rolls for the Yes on 8 campaign, listing them on his Web site and creating more media attention. And he worked in tandem with Equality California, alerting the statewide LGBT group and lead coordinator of the No on 8 fight.

“I told them I would not raise a dime so as not to compete against the No on 8 campaign. We will be the watchdog group and follow the money,” said Karger, who has been closely monitoring the money anti-gay groups are raising to overturn Maine’s pro-same-sex marriage law. “We would list donors who gave $5,000 or over to Yes on 8.”

EQCA Executive Director Geoff Kors called Karger “a great partner and colleague” whose work has been beneficial to the fight for marriage equality.

“He has been successful in highlighting to a lot of people that the community is not going to support any businesses who believe we should be denied the same rights everyone else has,” said Kors.
In the process Karger has morphed into the main nemesis of the Alliance Defense Fund, an anti-gay group that has provided legal counsel to campaigns in numerous states against LGBT rights, and the National Organization for Marriage, a group helping to finance anti-gay ballot fights across the country.

He also helped expose the involvement of the Church of Jesus Chris of Latter-day Saints in last year’s No on 8 fight. The church insisted it did not financially support the campaign, and ProtectMarriage.com, the group behind the Yes on 8 effort, unsuccessfully tried to conceal its final donor report this January to hide the Mormon money it received.

“I never thought of the Mormon donations until the end of the campaign and the reports came out and I discovered the Mormon money given to Yes on 8,” said Karger. “Once you start communicating outside your church membership, it is reportable.”

ProtectMarriage.com is now suing California in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California in Sacramento in a bid to throw out the state’s campaign contributions disclosure laws. The Alliance Defense Fund is representing the anti-gay group in the lawsuit and is working with Indiana-based attorney James Bopp Jr. and his firm.

The lawyers for the anti-gay side just won a victory in Washington state when a federal judge ruled the backers of a voter-referendum aimed at repealing a newly enacted domestic partnership law did not have to identify who signed the petitions to put Referendum 71 on the ballot.
Timothy D. Chandler, an attorney with the Folsom, California-based Alliance Defense Fund, did not respond to a call seeking comment for this article.

Chandler has subpoenaed Karger to appear at an October 13 deposition in the California case. He is seeking documents and records on Karger’s various Web sites about the boycotts he launched and his Californians Against Hate group. He is also seeking documents on how Karger obtained the donor records of those supporting Prop 8, who he disseminated that information to, and the financial records for Karger’s nonprofit, which as a 501(c)4 does not have to report its donors if it does not raise or spend more than $25,000 a year.

“They are trying to intimidate me and silence me. To harass me, they called me as a witness, now I have to get lawyers and be prepared,” said Karger, who does not draw any salary from the nonprofit group he founded. “The Mormons are trying to use it to deflect attention away from them. It’s a publicity stunt.”

As for the lawsuit, Karger said, “I don’t think they have a snowball’s chance in hell of getting it through. There is no reason to throw out this law.”