NOM under investigation by Iowa ethics board

The National Organization for Marriage has landed itself in hot water for refusing to disclose donors of its efforts to oust Iowa Supreme Court justices in what may have been a violation of state law.

Thumbnail image for Brian Brown.jpgThe Iowa Ethics & Campaign Disclosure Board voted unanimously last week to investigate whether NOM broke Iowa election laws by refusing to reveal who funded its 2010 and 2012 campaigns to oust the seven state Supreme Court justices who ruled unanimously to recognize same-sex couples’ right to marry in 2009. 

According to The Des Moines Register, the Iowa ethics board’s lawyer and executive director said NOM was “absolutely wrong” in its interpretations of state law, in particular its assertion that the organization does not need to disclose donations that were raised via phone and email following a Sept. 21, 2012, fundraising email targeting the Iowa justices.

“This is just the latest example of how NOM doesn’t believe laws apply to them,” said Human Rights Campaign vice president of communications, Fred Sainz, in a statement.

NOM spent $600,000 in a successful attempt to recall three of Iowa’s Supreme Court justices in 2010. According to HRC, NOM and Iowans for Freedom spent more than $465,000 in a failed effort to unseat Justice David Wiggins last year. HRC contributed $145,000 to the retention campaign.

“NOM has a penchant for portraying themselves as a grassroots organization, but their own tax returns tell a different story,” Sainz continued. “Brian Brown and his anti-gay cohorts went into Iowa with the goal of intimidating justices all across the country, and they did so with a reckless disregard for state law.” 

NOM President Brian Brown, however, has been defiant and described the investigation as a “witch hunt spawned by a delusional homosexual activist.” The complaint was filed in June by Fred Karger, a former Republican presidential candidate who is gay.

“The complaint is another attempt to shut down criticism of activist judges and politicians who wish to redefine marriage,” Brown said in a statement. “All that the decision today means is that Karger has alleged actions that, if proven true, would possibly constitute violations of campaign finance rules. But the allegations are dead wrong and the Board action today in no way means that the Board agrees with Karger’s frivolous allegations. We are concerned about the continual use of the legal system by Karger and other homosexual marriage advocates who are intent on denying us and the people of Iowa their civil rights to defend marriage as God created it.” 

The remaining justices are expected to face their retention votes in 2016.

[Photo: Brian Brown via Twitter]

Justin Snow is Metro Weekly's political editor and White House correspondent. He can be reached at jsnow@metroweekly.com.

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