NOM must list RI expenditures

Posted by Eric Tucker on

"A national anti-freedom to marry group is free to run political ads in the Rhode Island governor's race but must report how much it is spending, a judge said Thursday.

"U.S. District Judge Mary Lisi made the ruling after hearing arguments from lawyers for the state and for the National Organization for Marriage, which wants to run ads ahead of the Nov. 2 election against candidates who support marriage equality.

"The organization sued the state last month, arguing that it was not a political action committee and should therefore not have to report its expenses, comply with spending limits or bans or follow other requirements typically imposed on PACs.

"But the arguments Thursday barely touched that issue and Lisi said it was essentially moot.

"Since the organization now says it doesn't plan to work in concert with a particular candidate or party, its advertisements are properly classified as 'independent expenditures' under state law, said the judge and lawyers for the state. There's no limit or ban on such expenditures, and the only requirement is a simple form requiring a group that plans to spend more than $100 to list the date, amount and purpose of the expense.

"Lisi said the organization may run the ads provided it reports its expenditures.

"'It informs the populace, the voting public, as to who you are,' Lisi said, later adding that she did not consider the expenditure requirement onerous.

"The organization has filed similar lawsuits around the country, inspired in part by a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision earlier this year that made it easier for corporations and unions to spend money in elections.

"The group has said it wants to use radio and TV ads and direct mailing in the governor's race and legislative elections."

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