Gay activist Fred Karger, founder of
Californians Against Hate, has filed a complaint against The Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) with the
California Enforcement Division of the Fair Political Practices
Commission (FPPC) alleging numerous contribution violations to the
campaign to ban gay marriage in California by the Mormon Church.
Karger says the Mormon Church is hiding its direct contributions to
the Yes-On-8 campaign.
Californians Against Hate was the first
group to call for protests and boycotts against large donors
supporting Proposition 8, the California ballot initiative that revokes
the right of gay and lesbian couples to marry in the Golden State.
the group launched a website and a call-in campaign against San Diego
businessman Terry Caster, owner of A-1 Self Storage, after the
California Secretary of State verified that the Caster family's
combined anti-gay marriage contribution of $293,000 (in September)
was the largest from San Diego County.
The group also led the boycott against
Doug Manchester's two San Diego hotels, the Manchester Grand Hyatt
and the Grand Del Mar, and his McCall, Idaho resort, the Whitetail
Club, due to the hotelier's reported $125,000 donation in support of
the gay marriage ban.
A boycott and demonstrations against
juice manufacturer Bolthouse Farms was called off late in the
campaign after the company proved William Bolthouse Jr., who donated
$100,000 to the campaign against gay marriage, was no longer
associated with the company.
But the news that members of the Mormon
Church had donated a large majority (some estimate as much as 77%) of
the money used to wage war against gay marriage in California has
drawn the ire of gay activist who continue protesting in the streets
and on the Internet against the church.
Californians Against Hate tallied the
Mormon involvement and kept up-to-date totals of their giving
throughout the May-to-November campaign at the website
californiansagainsthate.com. But five days after the election, as
gay activists began protesting Mormon churches – some even calling
for a boycott against the Mormon stronghold of Utah – Don Eaton, a
spokesman for the Mormon Church, denied any monetary involvement in
passage of the gay marriage ban.
“The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints put zero money in this [the passage of Prop 8],”
Eaton told KGO TV, an ABC affiliate.
Mormon leaders say individuals of the
Mormon faith donated their personal time and money, but never did the
church itself donate to the campaign against gay marriage.
Karger's complaint conflicts with that
assertion; it says the church spent lots of money communicating with
voters in California.
The complaint claims that the Mormon
Church violated California's Political Reform Act when it failed to
report massive non-monetary contributions to the Yes-On-8 campaign.
Among the violations cited are the
costs of get-out-the-vote phone
banks in Utah and Idaho, various mailings to voters, transportation
services, marketing materials – professionally produced commercials
hosted on websites available to the public included – and at least
two satellite broadcasts over five western states.
Election law states that non-monetary
contributions exceeding $100 that do not constitute “member
communications” must be reported. Karger contends that Mormon
non-monetary contributions to protectmarriage.com, the primary backer
of the Yes-On-8 campaign, clearly do not constitute “member
“In 1998, the Mormon Church directly
contributed $1.1 million to ban same-sex marriages in Alaska and
Hawaii, and received widespread criticism for that,” Karger says in
a cover letter accompanying the formal complaint. “So this year in
California, it appears that the Mormon Church was trying to avoid any
direct contributions to Yes on Prop 8, and instead raised millions
from its member families. That is legal, but all the money spent to
communicate with nonmembers must be reported if it exceeds $100.
Clearly the Mormon Church has vastly exceeded that threshold.”
Karger also notified the attorneys
general of California and Utah.
“Let's be transparent here,” Karger
told The Associated Press. “If they are going to play in
the political process, they need to abide by the rules like everyone