The Maine state ethics board on
Wednesday voted unanimously to impose a record fine against the
National Organization for Marriage (NOM) for violating Maine's donor
In imposing the hefty fine, the
committee accepted the recommendation of the Maine Commission on
Governmental Ethics and Election Practices, which determined that NOM
attempted to conceal its donor list during the 2009 people's veto
campaign that repealed a gay marriage law approved by lawmakers.
Three years later, voters reversed course, making Maine the first
state in the nation to legalize such unions at the ballot box.
The board imposed a record $50,250 fine
against NOM, the Kennebec
Journal reported. The organization vowed to appeal the
ruling, saying it would not disclose its donors list. It said doing
so would put individuals at risk of threats and harassment.
NOM contributed more than $2 million to
the $3 million campaign to uproot the marriage law. The referendum
campaign was led by Stand for Marriage Maine, a Maine-based ballot
question committee. NOM has argued that it donated money to the
committee from a general fund.
However, NOM President Brian Brown was
an operating officer at Stand for Marriage Maine.
“I have a hard time not concluding
that you didn't control the ballot question committee,” said
Michael Healy, a member of the ethics committee.
The complaint against NOM, filed by
Rights Equal Rights President Fred Karger, states that under Maine
election laws, NOM should have registered as a ballot committee.
Such groups are required to report contributions and expenditures to
“After nearly five years of NOM head
Brian Brown and his army of lawyers fighting in state and federal
court against the investigation, the verdict is in and NOM is guilty
of election fraud,” Karger said in a written statement. “All
Americans who believe in truth and transparency in our election
process owe everyone in Maine who worked on this investigation and
all the lawsuits around it a huge debt of gratitude.”
NOM has repeatedly asserted that it
must protect the identities of its donors.