Complaint says Maine anti-gay marriage group hiding donor identities

no_on_1A California-based gay rights group has filed a complaint with the Maine Ethics Commission alleging that groups trying to overturn Maine’s gay marriage law are engaging in “money laundering.”

Fred Karger, founder of Californians Against Hate, has filed a nine-page complaint, alleging that several groups targeting repeal of the law are engaging in practices to hide the identity of donors to the Stand for Marriage campaign, which is leading the repeal effort in Maine.

Karger says the groups, including the National Organization for Marriage, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, the national office of the Knights of Columbus and Focus on the Family had contributors give the money to their organizations, and in turn gave the money to the Stand for Marriage Maine to hide the donors’ identity. He cites that the Stand for Marriage campaign’s quarterly finance report indicates only a fraction – $400.00 – of the group’s $343,689 in donations came from individuals.

Ethics Commission Chair Jonathan Wayne says he’s asked the Stand for Marriage campaign for a response to Karger’s complaint by September 16. He says the Ethics Commission will likely decide whether to launch an investigation at its meeting scheduled for October 1st.

Maine election laws require donors to political campaigns be listed, even if their contributions are as small as $50. Stand for Marriage co-chair Bob Emrich said Wednesday the complaint is bogus and that the groups have been very careful to follow the reporting law.

Californians Against Hate successfully lobbied the California Fair Political Practices Commission to launch an ongoing investigation into the Mormon Church for under-reporting non-monetary contributions to Proposition 8, the 2008 referendum that banned marriage for same-sex couples there.

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