Maine fines national marriage group

by ALANNA DURKIN, Assocaited Press / Yahoo News  |  published on May 30, 2014

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine’s ethics panel fined a national anti-gay marriage group more than $50,000 on Wednesday and ordered it to reveal the donors who backed its efforts to repeal the state’s gay marriage law.

The Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices found that the National Organization for Marriage violated campaign finance laws by failing to properly register as a ballot question committee and file financial reports in the 2009 referendum that struck down gay marriage. Same-sex unions were legalized by voters in 2012.

The commission also ruled that the organization must file a campaign finance report, which would force it to disclose the names of its donors. The National Organization for Marriage has fought for years to keep its donor list secret, saying doing so would put its contributors at risk for harassment and intimidation.

A lawyer for the organization vowed to appeal the ethic commission’s decision in state court, and members of the panel said they expect litigation to continue for at least a year.

Under Maine law, groups must register if they raise or spend more than $5,000 to influence a statewide ballot question.