Iowa investigating anti-LGBT group over secret donors

By David Ferguson
Friday, August 9, 2013 12:07 EDT
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Fred Karger via screencap
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The anti-LGBT group the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) is currently under investigation by Iowa state officials for purported ethics violations in its campaign to unseat three state supreme court judges who voted to make same sex marriage legal in the state. According to Des Moines’ Channel 13 News, the Southern Poverty Law Center-certified hate group failed to disclose its donors in compliance with state campaign and finance laws.

NOM has campaigned heavily in Iowa since a 2009 state Supreme Court ruling that declared that there is no constitutional basis for denying same sex couples the right to marry. Three of the justices who voted in the unanimous decision have been unseated in judicial retention elections since the historic decision, but same sex marriage remains legal in the state.

The Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board convened on Thursday to hear the complaint filed against NOM. Former long-shot Republican 2012 candidate Fred Karger, who is openly gay, filed the complaint with the board on the grounds that the group should be transparent if it hopes to continue to operate in the presidential candidate proving ground that is Iowa.

“We know perfectly well that they will be back in Iowa,” Karger told Channel 13. “There’s Senate races next year.”

He continued, “They’re determined to overthrow Senator Gronstal in the Senate, they’re three other justices that were part of the Varnum decision who will be up in 2016 and the National Organization for Marriage is relentless.”

No one from NOM appeared at the Thursday hearing, but its president, Brian Brown, told Channel 13, “This inquiry is a witch hunt spawned by a delusional homosexual activist who fancies himself becoming the president of the united states and who is a serial filer of frivolous allegations against us whenever we stand up for traditional marriage.”

This is not NOM’s first brush with dubious ethical practices or with Karger. In 2012, documents surfaced which showed that the group hoped to “drive a wedge” between LGBT voters and African-Americans in an effort to divide traditionally Democratic constituencies.

In June of 2012, the state of California initiated an investigation into NOM’s practices in the state during the 2008 Proposition 8 campaign. In that case, Karger filed a complaint alleging that the group failed to report $10,000 it received from Mitt Romney’s Alabama PAC, Free and Strong America as well as a total of $275,000 it obtained from other undisclosed donors.

Watch the video, embedded below via Des Moines’ Channel 13 News:

[image of Fred Karger via screencap]

David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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