The nearly $190,000 in Mormon church
donations towards passage of a gay marriage ban in California
reported on January 30 was just the tip of the iceberg says
Californians Against Hate founder Fred Karger.
The group that opposes Proposition 8 –
the November 4 ballot measure that yanked back the right of gays and
lesbians to marry in the state – said Wednesday they would file a
second complaint with the state. They allege the Church of
Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) is hiding millions in donations.
“I'm calling this Mormongate,”
Karger told reporters at a press conference held in Salt Lake City.
“I think there's been a massive cover-up.”
The California Fair Political Practices
Commission has agreed to investigate the group's original November 13
The Mormon church remains at the center
of a bitter debate over gay marriage in California that Proposition 8
supporters had believed would be settled with passage of the gay
marriage ban. The tab for the social measure – nearly $80 million
– has grown beyond anything seen before in American politics.
Mormon members are believed to have
donated as much as $25 million towards passage of Proposition 8 at
the request of the church.
“The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints put zero money in this [the passage of Prop 8],”
Don Eaton, a spokesman for the church, told KGO TV, the San Francisco
Mormon leaders insist individuals of
the Mormon faith donated their personal time and money, but never did
the church itself donate to the campaign against gay marriage.
Karger's complaint conflicts with that
assertion; it says the church spent lots of money communicating with
voters in California.
Among the violations cited are the
costs of get-out-the-vote phone
banks in Utah and Idaho, various mailings to voters, transportation
services, marketing materials – professionally produced commercials
hosted on websites available to the public included – and at least
two satellite broadcasts over five western states.
Church leaders have reported nearly
$190,000 of non-monetary donations to the Yes-on-8 campaign. About
$97,000 was used to pay staffers. The remainder paid for travel
expenses, including airline tickets, hotels and hot meals.
Mike Otterson, director of public
affairs for the church, refuted Karger's claims to The Associated
“Today's press conference should be
seen for what it is – a publicity stunt as part of a campaign to
marginalize and intimidate those who voted to support traditional
marriage ...,” he said. “Mr. Karger is entitled to his opinion.
He is not entitled to make up facts.”