Federal Appeals Court rules NOM must turn over donor names

Posted by Paula Brooks on lezgetreal.com:


"The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) has been ordered by the 1st District federal court of appeals in Boston to provide Maine state election officials with information about the group’s donors.

"NOM contributed nearly $2 million to last year’s Catholic Church sponsored campaign to overturn Maine’s freedom to marry law.  Opponents, however, say NOM failed to comply with the Maine’s financial disclosure law, a claim that is now under investigation by the state Ethics Commission.

"Last month a Federal Magistrate upheld a Maine Ethics Commission order to release the names, but NOM appealed that ruling saying that if the organizations donor list were made public, gays would harass and perhaps harm the corporations and individuals who contributed to the campaign to overturn the Maine marriage law.

"In it’s decision the 1st District Court disagreed and said that the documents requested by the Ethics Commission do not violate NOM's 1st Amendment guarantees, nor does the request impose a 'significant risk of chill' to free expression.

“'We conclude that the materials in question have the potential to be highly relevant to that issue, and we see no less restrictive means for Appellees to probe the issue than by reviewing the materials under the auspices of the strict protective order to which Appellees have consented,' said the court. The court also ordered that any information handed over by NOM to Maine’s election officials would remain confidential.

“'NOM must reveal to the state how they raised the money, for what purpose and who it came from,' said Kate Simmons of the Maine Attorney Generals' office in an interview with the Maine Public Broadcasting Network. 'They were the largest single contributor to Stand for Marriage Maine, and as a part of Maine’s campaign finance laws, the state is working to find out how they raised that money and for what purpose.'”

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