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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 28, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 39
NOM money starts flowing to Washington
Section One
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NOM money starts flowing to Washington

National anti-equality group donates $250k to state campaign

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Without fanfare, NOM money has started flowing to Washington opponents of marriage equality. The National Organization for Marriage contributed $250,000 to Preserve Marriage Washington on September 20, according to reports filed with the state Public Disclosure Commission (PDC).

While this donation makes NOM the single largest contributor to Preserve Marriage, it is far short of the $4 million budget that NOM operative Chris Plante said the Washington group would have to work with in the campaign to reject Referendum 74.

As SGN goes to press, Preserve Marriage has raised nearly $903,000 and spent slightly more than $309,000, according to the PDC. The group lists a debt of $120,218.56.

The PDC documents do not indicate where the new NOM money is going, although Mission Public Affairs, the firm owned by NOM heavyweight Frank Schubert, has reserved $1.5 million worth of TV spots. Ads opposing marriage equality have yet to run.

PDC reports for August, the most recent ones available, actually show Preserve Marriage funneling money back to NOM, Schubert, and NOM president Brian Brown.

Schubert's Mission Public Affairs was paid $35,000 in August, for example. ActRight, a right-wing public affairs foundation linked to Brown, was paid $16,752.50 for various services.

In contrast, Washington United for Marriage, the Approve R-74 group, has raised well over $7.7 million, including a $2.5 million donation from Amazon mogul Jeff Bezos.

The Approve R-74 campaign has announced a $5 million media buy, with ads already running online and on TV.

While the money advantage to date has clearly been with the pro-equality side, Washington United campaign manager Zach Silk has cautioned against over-confidence. Silk has told SGN repeatedly that he believes NOM might spend $4 million to $6 million in Washington.

IRREGULARITIES CHARGED
Official PDC reports may be misleading, according to Sandra Turner Fukumoto, who has filed a complaint with the PDC charging that Preserve Marriage and NOM have failed to disclose all their contributions and expenditures. The complaint, filed by law firm Davis Wright Tremaine in August, suggest that anti-equality forces may be taking in and spending much more than they are actually reporting.

NOM is also investing major resources in Maryland, where a very similar referendum challenging the state's new marriage equality law is on the ballot, and in Maine, where a measure restoring marriage equality will be up for a vote. In Minnesota, NOM is supporting a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage.

Polling shows marriage equality leading in Washington, Maryland, and Maine, and opinion evenly split in Minnesota.

The question will be whether NOM can successfully wage four statewide campaigns at the same time, in a year when public attitudes seem to be taking a dramatic turn toward marriage equality.

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