The National Organization for Marriage reported raising more than $284,000 in 2011 to promote Minnesota's constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, but the group did not list any donors in its campaign finance disclosure filings, which were released Wednesday.
According to the filings, NOM reported giving $250,000 to the group Minnesota for Marriage, of which NOM is a member. NOM also reported that its contributions to Minnesota for Marriage came from "membership dues" to NOM. Under a loophole in Minnesota law, those donations would not have to be disclosed so long as NOM did not directly solicit contributions in the state.
Minnesota for Marriage also received $225,000 from the Minnesota Family Council, a group whose campaign finance reports are not available at the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board. MFC is part of the Minnesota for Marriage coalition.
Another member, the Minnesota Catholic Conference, which is the public policy arm of the Roman Catholic Church in Minnesota, contributed $350,000 to Minnesota for Marriage.
That money came from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, the Diocese of Duluth and the Diocese of New Ulm from "business interest" accounts; thus no donors are listed.
Of the money reported by proponents of the anti-gay-marriage amendment in Minnesota, Minnesota for Marriage listed $830,000 in contributions in 2011, about 99 percent of which came from sources for which individual donor information was not available. Only $2,019 came from identified public support, and another $1,986 came from small donations that were not reportable.
Already, groups have begun to question NOM's reporting. The Human Rights Campaign has called for an investigation.
“NOM has deliberately evaded Minnesota’s public disclosure laws,” HRC President Joe Solmonese said in a statement. “We’ve seen this movie before in plenty of other states. This is part of NOM’s systematic attempt across the country to oppose public disclosure and hide its donors. In Minnesota, they have taken it to a whole new level. We believe that NOM and others may be secretly telling people to contribute to them instead of directly to the campaign so that they can avoid public disclosure. The contrast between seven individuals opposing marriage equality and thousands of pro-equality supporters is quite revealing.”
Minnesotans United for All Families, the coalition opposing the amendment, raised approximately $1.2 million from thousands of donors. The group's campaign finance report filing spanned 348 pages compared with Minnesota for Marriage's eight pages.
Among the donors opposing the anti-gay marriage amendment were James Pohlad, owner of the Major League Baseball team Minnesota Twins, and relatives of Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton who are also founders of the Target Corporation.
Photo: National for Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown speaks at NOM’s 2010 Summer for Marriage Tour, July 27, 2010 (source: Flickr/Lost Albatross).