WASHINGTON — Documents sent to the Human Rights Campaign and released Friday reveal that Republican presidential front runner Mitt Romney confidentially donated $10,000 to the National Organizational for Marriage via the Alabama chapter of his political action committee, “Free and Strong America.”
The timing of Romney’s donation is curious in that it occurred prior to the Proposition 8 ballot initiative in California that ultimately stripped same-sex couples of their legal ability to get married.
The National Organization for Marriage, along with the Mormon and Catholic church, had been at the forefront of the campaign to repeal same-sex marriage in the state.
The contribution from Romney’s PAC, donated while NOM was engaged in passing California’s Proposition 8, was revealed in NOM’s 2008 IRS 990 report, which HRC obtained from a whistle blower.
In the public version of the form, the donors’ names are redacted. But when the HRC got a copy of the non-redacted version, it listed $10,000 from Romney’s PAC, Free and Strong America.
Although the PAC’s tax records showed no such donation, eventually the HRC determined that the money came from the PAC’s Alabama affiliate, suggesting an attempt to evade scrutiny.
“Clearly there was a strategy here to conceal,” says Fred Sainz, the Human Rights Campaign’s vice president.
“For what other purpose would you contribute $10,000 to NOM three weeks before the election other than Prop 8?” said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign on Friday.
“The question that now remains is whether this whole thing was an attempt for Mitt Romney to fund the Prop 8 battle without his own fingerprints, Solmonese said.
(A public version of the document, with donor names redacted, is available here.)
The HRC also called on Romney to disavow the racially divisive tactics of the National Organization for Marriage, which the organization revealed this week to be engaging in a plan to “drive a wedge between gays and blacks” and manipulate the Latino community.
“Mitt Romney’s funding of a hate-filled campaign designed to drive a wedge between Americans is beyond despicable,” said Solmonese.
“Not only has Romney signed NOM’s radical marriage pledge, now we know he’s one of the donors that NOM has been so desperate to keep secret all these years.”
HRC exposed NOM’s divisive strategy this week in documents that were disclosed by a court in Maine as part of an ongoing campaign finance investigation into the organization.
NAACP Chairman Emeritus Julian Bond called NOM’s tactics “one of the most cynical things I’ve ever heard.”
“Mitt Romney must be held to account. You can’t at one point say you’ll be better for gays than Ted Kennedy and then turn around and fund one of the most divisive, far-right strategies ever devised to deny rights to gay people,” said Solmonese.