Posts Tagged ‘internal revenue service’

Is the IRS really targeting the tea party?

Posted on: March 26th, 2012 by Teddy Wilson No Comments

Residents gather during a Waco Tea Party event. (Photo Credit: Randomized Productions/Flickr)

Conservative activists and some Republican lawmakers are up in arms about what they describe as the Internal Revenue Service conducting a partisan and ideologically driven campaign against tea party groups around the country. They claim that progressive organizations are not experiencing the same level of scrutiny. However, some progressive groups say they have had similar experiences with the IRS, and at least one expert dismisses the notion that the government is engaged in an ideological witch hunt.

Tea party groups, as well as other non-profit organizations, can apply for tax-exempt status with the IRS. Under the 501(c) designation there are 28 different types of organizations that are exempt from paying some or all federal taxes. Typically, organizations like tea party groups will apply either for 501(c)3 or 501(c)4 status, depending on the organization’s activities. One of the differences between the designations is that donations to a 501(c)3 are tax deductible and donations to a 501(c)4 are not.

In an interview with the Texas Independent, Toby Walker of the Waco Tea Party said that the group applied for 501(c)4 status by filing a 1024 form with the IRS in July of 2010. About a month later the group was informed that the IRS would take 90 days to inform it of an approval, a denial, or a request for more information. “The 90 days came and went,” said Walker. “But on their web site it said that they were behind. We started calling and checking in, and they said they were backlogged.”

Then on Feb. 7 of this year, the Waco Tea Party received a letter from the IRS asking for the answers to 20 questions. “Some of the questions were acceptable,” said Walker. “We knew they were going to ask for more information, and we weren’t surprised to get the letter. What surprised us were a number of the questions that did not pertain to the 1024.”

“Red alert”

Walker specifically cited the seventeenth question as being a “red alert.” The question asks if the group has a “close relationship with any candidate for public office or political party.” The question also asks them to describe the relationship.

“I told our treasurer to find out what that means,” said Walker. “When we called the IRS they said that close relationship is subjective and to send them the names, and they will let us know. What does that mean?”

“It was so onerous to answer,” said Walker.

The letter asked for transcripts of the group’s social media activities, including posts on Facebook and Twitter. It also requested transcripts of the group’s online radio show. Walker said that the group was looking at significant costs for printing and shipping all of the documents required. “Just to do our Twitter account would be between 2,500 and 3,000 pages,” said Walker.

Walker said that she knew that “left leaning groups” that filed the same year had been approved. While she did not name the specific groups, Walker referred to a March 8 Roll Call article. The article stated that “several liberal groups contacted by Roll Call did not report similar experiences.”

The article specifically cited Protect Your Care, a 501(c)4 organization that describes its mission as providing a space to “champion the Affordable Care Act,” as an organization that did not receive any such questionnaire letter from the IRS. Roll Call also said that one other unnamed liberal 501(c)(4) organization was granted tax exempt status in May after receiving “only a modest six-part questionnaire.”

Progressives get same treatment

However, interviews conducted by the Texas Independent with three different progressive organizations call into question charges that the IRS is engaged in ideological discrimination. Each organization reported varying degrees of interactions with the IRS, and the amount of time it took each to receive final approval also varied. However, two of the organizations did receive correspondence from the IRS requesting more information, and these letters included similar questions to those received by the Waco Tea Party.

In College Station, Texas, the Brazos Progressives, a coalition of progressive groups and businesses, originally filed for 501(c)3 status and, after being denied, filed for and received 501(c)4 status. Clean Elections Texas, an organization that seeks to build support for a public funding option for candidates seeking public office in Texas, filed for 501(c)4 status and said that they avoided requests for more information by being advised on what specific information the IRS was looking for on the 1024 forms.

A staff member of a progressive organization in Texas spoke with the Texas Independent on the condition of anonymity due to the fact that their organization is undergoing a similar review as the Waco Tea Party. The staff member said that that while the organization’s application for 501(c)3 and 501(c)4 status went through “fairly smoothly,” the organization also had to answer extensive follow-up questions about its finances and mission.

“We received a questionnaire of around twenty questions,” said a staff member. “The letter was looking for a deeper understanding of our organization. There were no questions that were that surprising. I think they [the questions] were just about really drilling into why we wanted to have a tax exempt status. It made us focus on what we are working on and what kind of great good agenda, not just a partisan agenda, we are working toward.”

“The IRS is asking similar questions of organizations from all over the political spectrum.”

The staff member, who said that he has worked for multiple 501(c)3 and 501(c)4 organizations during the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations, said that he has perceived no difference in how non-profits applying for tax-exempt status are treated. “When the IRS asks questions, then you answer them,” said the staff member. “If you are upset with being upfront and clear about your organization, then maybe you shouldn’t be filing for a 501(c)4 status.”

A comparison of the letter from the IRS released by the Waco Tea Party and of a letter provided by the progressive Texas organization found that both are extensively detailed, asked similar questions, and were tailored to each organization. Both letters asked for copies of the organization’s board meeting minutes and for copies of each organization’s web sites. Questions also addressed specific concerns that the IRS had with each organization but, on the whole, did not appear to treat the organizations differently.

Marcus Owens, an attorney who represents non-profit organizations and has previously worked with the IRS, told the Texas Independent that the IRS is attempting to “get behind the rhetoric” of organizations that are interested in public policy.

“The IRS is asking similar questions of organizations from all over the political spectrum,” said Owens. “The real issue for the IRS when it looks at organizations that apply for 501(c)4 status is whether or not they are social welfare organizations or something else. It’s not whether or not they should be exempt or not, but which code section they should be exempt under.”

While Owens did think that some of the questions were too broad and could have been worded better, he also said that groups applying for tax exempt status have options when questioned by the IRS.

“Fundamentally the IRS has a right ask the questions,” said Owens. “However, the IRS is usually open to negotiating how much information you need to provide. What is clear is that this application process is normally not improved by public posturing. It is the task of the organization or the organization’s representatives to add to the facts and make the case to the IRS.”

Walker says that when the Waco Tea Party received the letter from the IRS, the group contacted its members, volunteers, and supporters. At no time did the group contact the IRS directly for clarification of the questions or to negotiate what information would be acceptable.

The Waco Tea Party also sought out the American Center for Law and Justice for legal advice and representation.

The ACLJ has taken up the cause of the Waco Tea Party and other tea party groups. The ACLJ describes itself as “committed to ensuring the ongoing viability of freedom and liberty in the United States and around the world.” Founded in 1990 by television evangelist Pat Robertson, the group has gained notoriety for taking up conservative causes. These have included providing a legal defense for a public bus driver who was fired for refusing to take a woman to a Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas.

“When a branch of the fed government is violating citizens’ rights, they need to be investigated and put into their constitutional box.”

The ACLJ posted a petition on its web site to “Stop the IRS from Silencing the Tea Party.” The petition claims that under the Obama Administration the IRS “appears to be conducting politically motivated investigations of tea party organizations nationwide.” The petition characterizes the investigations as “bullying tactics” that are “designed to silence these organizations.” The petition calls for the Speaker of the House and others to “provide IRS oversight.” Other Republican lawmakers and candidates have joined in supporting these claims, and some have called for congressional investigations.

Rep. Flores gets involved

Republican Rep. Bill Flores (TX-17), whose district includes Waco, penned a letter to House Committee on Oversight on Government Reform Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa stating that he is “concerned that the IRS is targeting tea party organizations around the country.” The letter requests that Issa’s committee open an investigation into the issue and hold congressional hearings. Republican senators also sent a letter to Commissioner of the IRS Douglas Shulman, requesting a response to similar concerns and demanding that the agency hold further “demands for information.”

The Waco Tea Party also taken to social media to make its case that it is being targetted by the IRS, characterizing it as a battle between the “IRS versus the tea party.” Posting multiple status updates and links on Facebook and Twitter, the group has made the claim that you are “either with us or against us and the constitution.” The group has also promoted the petition drive by the ALCJ, tweeting “defend the tea party from the IRS, sign the petition and call Congress.”

Another recent tweet reads: “The left is trying to silence Rush, and the IRS is trying to silence the tea party.”

Walker shares the desire for an investigation and hearings. “Yes there needs to be congressional hearings,” she said. “When a branch of the fed government is violating citizens’ rights, they need to be investigated and put into their constitutional box.”

Waco Tea Party IRS Letter//

IRS Letter to Progressive Group//

Report: Florida’s poor disclosure laws cloak impact of independent spending

Posted on: November 29th, 2011 by The American Independent No Comments
A new report released by the National Institute on Money in State Politics finds that Florida’s campaign finance disclosure laws make it hard to see what effect independent spending has on elections in the state.

According to the report, “researchers discovered that the increasing use of independent spending in Florida allows both large donors and candidates to circumvent the state’s contribution and public financing limits, but poor disclosure laws inhibit analysis of the impact this spending had on the outcome of elections.”

Researchers found that between 2006 and 2010, “$96.8 million of independent spending was reported in Florida, with just under half spent during the 2010 election.” Independent spending reached 25 to 30 percent of the amount contributed directly to candidates and ballot measure campaigns in each of those elections. While that is not considered a significant amount of growth, researchers say that independent spending is still “playing an increasingly important role in Florida’s elections.”

According to the report, Electioneering Communication Organizations (ECOs) — or 527s — provide a loophole for both large donors and candidates to Florida’s “contribution and public financing limits.”

The report explains:

A large donor can only give a candidate $500 per election, yet they are free to spend unlimited sums on electioneering communications, which are advertisements that seek to influence an election but fall short of explicitly endorsing or opposing a particular candidate or ballot measure. Candidates, particularly gubernatorial candidates, used ECOs to augment their fundraising operations and avoid the limits imposed by Florida’s public financing system.

The report also points out that the way groups disclose information presents problems. In Florida, it is difficult to tell who is funding independent expenditures, as well as where the money is going. The groups typically have names that do not really describe what candidate or group they are attached to.

The study also highlights a problem with the limited number of people involved in managing the funds, an issue tackled by The Florida Independent last month.

According to the report, “of the $96.8 million of total independent spending during the study period, $38.8 million, 40 percent of the overall total, was routed through ECOs controlled by just four individuals.”

One of those individuals, the report says, is Nancy Watkins. Watkins is the treasurer for many political action committees — ”of which 24 are independent spending committees, 33 are registered with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC), and dozens more are 527 organizations registered with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS),” the report lists. Millions of dollars are funneled through Watkins’ address, 610 South Blvd. in Tampa, eventually influencing elections all over the country.

One of the more glaring problems the report surfaces, however, has to do with how information is disclosed in the state.

According to the study, effective campaign finance disclosure is comprised of three mutually reinforcing elements:

  • clear statutes,
  • comprehensive data collection,
  • and effective presentation of the data.

While Florida does collect a lot of data and require that groups submit large amounts of campaign finance information, the report explains that “the data itself often lacks key elements and is presented in ways that make it difficult to connect independent spending to specific candidates and their underlying funders”:

For example, nothing on the committee page for the Let’s Get To Work ECO, which spent $17.5 million in 2010, would indicate that it belonged to gubernatorial candidate Rick Scott. To make that connection, a person would have to find the PDF file of Scott’s Statement of Solicitation. In the case of ECOs not affiliated with a candidate, the underlying funder does not have to certify its connection to a particular ECO. Absent a Statement of Solicitation, making connections between ECOs and their funders involves examining each committee’s contribution records.

This can often be a complicated process. A funder will often separate their independent spending into multiple committees. When each independent spending committee is treated as an autonomous entity and not the extension of its funders, a shell game can develop. For example, US Sugar and subsidiaries of Fanjul Corp. spent $4.4 million from 2006 through 2010 through two innocuously named ECOs: Coalition For Justice and Equality and Florida’s Working Families. Although the two companies bankrolled each committee, they are registered to different addresses and have separate lobbyists as their “registered agents.” Without examining their contributions records, it would not be apparent that these committees were spending on behalf of the same corporations.

“Excellent data that cannot be easily accessed or clearly presented stymies the public’s right to know just as effectively as incomplete data,” the report argues.

Lastly, the report raises concerns over the types of connections ECOs are allowed to have with candidates in the state. Because there are no rules against politicians and campaigns working with ECOs, the groups can effectively “function as de facto arms of a candidate’s campaign.” This a glaring difference between rules set in place for independent expenditures.

The report concludes by warning that “Florida is typically one of the largest and most important electoral battlegrounds in the nation, but it lacks a comprehensive campaign finance disclosure system.”

“Absent one,” the report says, “the public’s ability to understand their government will invariably suffer. Its elections will continue to be influenced by a shadowy network of ECOs that obscure the connections between wealthy campaign donors and the public’s elected representatives.”

Ambiguities in campaign finance rules allow big money to work in the dark

Posted on: November 9th, 2011 by Yana Kunichoff 1 Comment

On July 19th, 2011, Mitt Romney attended a dinner party for potential donors put on by the super Political Action Committee (PAC), Restore Our Future. Under the Federal Election Commission’s (FEC) coordination guidelines, Romney’s presence at the fundraiser didn’t cross any boundaries, as long as he didn’t explicitly ask for money at the event.

But if the dinner party had been in June 2011, Romney would have been stretching the legal bounds of allowed coordination between a candidate and a super PAC. The FEC issued an advisory opinion on the question in July. The timing of Romney’s meeting highlights just how quickly the already ambiguous guidelines on coordination, which regulate the relationship between candidates and super PACs, are changing, and how they stretch the boundaries of campaign finance limits.

On the other side of the organization spectrum, 501(c) nonprofits are accepting unlimited, anonymous donations and funneling them into super PACs, providing complete secrecy to donors. But these nonprofits, too, are buttressed by weak regulation, say critics. Meanwhile, their funding increases as a result of the infamous Citizens United Supreme Court decision.

Candidates can only solicit money from nonprofits if the organization’s “main purpose” is not political activity, according to FEC regulations. If a 501(c) organization exceeds the minimum amount of political activity, it becomes a Qualified Nonprofit Corporation, and can then make political independent expenditures. But as reported by Roll Call last week, a more precise definition than “main purpose” has “never been clearly spelled out.”

The Internal Revenue Service says 501(c) nonprofits can only participate in “insubstantial” amounts of political activity, which Washington insiders have taken to mean social aid work must be 51 percent of the group’s purpose. But that is understood more as a rule of thumb.

This distinction has come under increased scrutiny as nonprofits both receive and give donations in the political realm — including to super PACs.

In 2010, the nonprofit advised by Karl Rove, Crossroads GPS  spent tens of millions of dollars on advertisements for Senate races around the country in 2010. The actions of the nonprofit, which is affiliated with the American Crossroads super PAC, prompted Sen. Dick Durbin and the nonprofit groups Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center to request an IRS review of Crossroads 501(c) status and a clarification of the rules governing nonprofits’ political action. 

Coordination confusion

Federal laws guiding super PAC coordination are equally narrow, say critics; super PACs may be independent groups in name, but the reality tells another story, according to critics, allowing for a large amount of activity outside the legal definition of coordination.

“The critical point is that the [coordination] laws are pretty modest,” said Paul S. Ryan, FEC Program Director and Associate Legal Counsel at the Campaign Legal Center. Candidates and super PACs “can’t coordinate on a specific detail, but it’s false that they can’t interact.”

As far as the FEC is concerned, coordination is defined as: “made in cooperation, consultation or concert with, or at the request or suggestion of, a candidate, a candidate’s authorized committee, or their agents, or a political party committee or its agents.”

The rules allow “a lot of interaction that’s not independent,” said Ryan. “It’s an overstatement and misstatement to say that they [super PACs] have to be independent.”

The rules have created enough head-spinning that comedian Stephen Colbert devoted his show Monday to spoofing them.

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Colbert Super PAC – Issue Ads
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive

A super PAC can support a specific candidate so long as their coordination is within the limits of the three coordination “prongs,” as the FEC calls them.

The first and most widely known is the restriction on coordinated spending. Super PACs are called independent expenditure groups because the decisions about how they spend their money can’t be made with the input of a candidate, though the money can be spent in support of a candidate or an issue that is important to the candidate.

The second is a limitations on public communications that can be made in support of candidates. If the communication is for electioneering purposes, advocates the defeat or victory of a candidate, has the input of a candidate or is disseminated 120 days or fewer before the election, it is considered coordinated.

The third coordination guideline covers solicitation. The candidate is not allowed to solicit or direct any money for super PACs, said Ryan with the Campaign Legal Center but “that restriction is quite modest.”

How does this affect the system?

Coordination limits have been pushed by candidates and super PACs in a number of ways. Even with these limitations, super PACs unlimited donation allowances bring in significantly more funding than traditional PACs, which can only take donations of up to $5,000 in support of candidates. Restore Our Future was created to support Romney, and has so far raised more than $12 million this year. By contrast, Romney’s traditional PAC, Free & Strong America, raised only a little over $3 million in the same time period.

All the same, several groups have submitted advisory opinion requests pertaining to “coordination” to the FEC, and some of the most significant changes in campaign finance have come from these groups.

A ruling in July 2011 allowed candidates to attend super PAC fundraisers; the idea of hybrid PACs that have a bank account both for independent and coordinated expenditures originated with an advisory opinion request to the FEC, and U.S. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) submitted an advisory opinion request last month asking whether a leadership PAC could also open an independent expenditure bank account.

But “the cutting edge of how much interaction on the spending of money can you get away with,” said Ryan, is being pushed by the super PAC American Crossroads. Its request seeks permission for American Crossroads to run advertisements that “feature incumbent members of Congress who might face uncertain re-election prospects,” and asks whether this could hurt its status as an independent expenditure committee.

Weakness of the FEC

The Federal Election Commission, the body charged with enforcing campaign finance laws, is first and foremost hampered by an ideological divide. Five of its six commissioners are on expired terms, and three Republican commissioners “think all campaign finance laws unconstitutional.”

This leads to lax regulation of what is already an “unlimited, unregulated shadow campaign,” says Ryan. “Million-dollar contributions to the Super PACs pose just as big a threat of corruption as would million-dollar contributions directly to candidates.”

Texas pastor and Perry endorser Jeffress has violated tax laws, says Americans United

Posted on: October 12th, 2011 by The American Independent No Comments

Americans United for the Separation of Church and State believes a controversial Texas pastor who posted videos of himself endorsing Gov. Rick Perry for president on his church’s website has violated federal tax laws.

(more…)

For 2nd year in a row, Focus on the Family not getting enough donations to make budget

Posted on: September 19th, 2011 by Sofia Resnick 3 Comments

Image by Matt MahurinInfluential conservative social policy group Focus on the Family announced Friday it will eliminate about 50 jobs due to a significant drop in donations that has led to a $15 million budget shortfall, as the Denver Post initially reported. (more…)

Anti-LGBT group launches campaign to keep gay people from donating blood

Posted on: August 9th, 2011 by Sofia Resnick No Comments

UPDATE: Aug. 10, 2011, 3:15 p.m., with a correction

Peter LaBarbera’s Americans for Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH) last week launched a campaign to prevent gay men from donating blood. Keep the Gay Blood Ban (KGB²) was sparked, LaBarbera says, because of “renewed lobby efforts to open up the U.S. blood supply to homosexuality-practicing men.” (more…)

National Organization for Marriage continues fighting ‘war on marriage’ with hefty cash arsenal

Posted on: July 25th, 2011 by Sofia Resnick No Comments

Sunday’s inaugural same-sex marriages in New York were met by thousands of protesters blasting the New York Legislature’s passage of the Marriage Equality Act last month. Alongside the profanity-laden chants coming from the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) camp, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) — which condemned the WBC, for its brand of protest, according to the Huffington Post — organized four rallies in the state, employing as its theme “Let the People Vote!,” which is also the name of NOM’s brand-new New York-centric website.

The NOM rallies — in Manhattan, Albany, Rochester and Buffalo — were held simultaneously and live-streamed on NOM’s new website, which offers many different opportunities to donate money. Rather than consider defeat in what they have dubbed a “war on marriage,” NOM has instead pledged to overturn the state’s decision by attempting to pass a ballot measure amending the state constitution to restrict marriage to straight couples.

What happened on Sunday, and will continue to happen as more same-sex couples receive marriage licenses, has given marriage-equality advocates all over the country confidence that — if NOM is right and the marriage issue is a war -– they are on the winning side.

But NOM is pushing forward with its “let the people vote” plan, which should prove to be a lengthy endeavor given the earliest date such a proposal could go on the ballot is four years from now. Human Rights Campaign spokesperson Kevin Nix recently told The American Independent that NOM’s four-year plan will likely be difficult to pull off.

“Time is NOM’s enemy,” Nix said in an email. “A bipartisan supermajority of New Yorkers support marriage equality today. Four years from now … this supermajority will only be stronger and more bipartisan. New Yorkers – and all Americans – move in one direction on this issue – toward equality, not away from it. The ship has sailed.”

Even so, NOM has said it would commit $2 million in New York, specifically to defeat the four Republican and three Democratic state senators who voted to legalize same-sex marriage in June after voting to ban it in 2009. On July 19, NOM announced it is spending $150,000 on mailers to send to the districts of those New York senators who “betrayed voters on marriage.” And this weekend the organization rolled out a newfundraising campaign made possible by one “generous donor.” Actually, it’s a challenge: Every time someone Facebook “Likes,” Twitter “Follows” or sends a text message about something on NOM’s website between now and Sept. 1, NOM will earn $1, up to $100,000, from this anonymous donor.

For its other anti-gay-marriage efforts in state legislatures and nationally, the Associated Press recently reported that NOM has pledged to spend $20 million by the end of the year.

In an email, NOM chairman of the board Maggie Gallagher told TAI that her organization is on target to raise at least $15 million by the end of fiscal year 2011, and possibly $20 million. She said NOM raised and spent $13 million in 2010.

“Our fundraising target evolve as our needs evolve, which is partly a result of our goals, and partly what we need to respond to pro-SSM [same-sex marriage] goals,” Gallagher said.

NOM’s massive growth

If NOM meets its $20 million target, that means in four years, the organization, whose stated goal is to ban gay marriage in every state where the issue comes up, will have grown by 3,900 percent. From a single donor in 2007, NOM has since acquired more than 50,000 donors, Gallagher told TAI.

“It’s been fairly rapid growth,” she said.

NOM’s first fiscal year began June 1, 2007, and ended Dec. 31, 2007, with $518,667 in total revenue and $472,840 in total expenses, according to the group’s exempt organization business income tax return from 2007 (PDF), provided on NOM’swebsite. Gallagher told TAI that they began the year with only one donor.

NOM began with eight officers, only two of whom were paid: then-Executive Director/now-President Brian Brown ($57,292) and then-President/now-Chairman of the Board Maggie Gallagher ($8,333).

In fiscal year 2008, NOM reported $2.97 million in revenue, a 529 percent increase, according to the group’s 2008 tax return (PDF). The officers remained the same, but this time, secretary treasurer Neil Corkery made it to the payroll, earning $24,000, and the two highest-ranking officials got pay bumps –- Brown earned $130,208; Gallagher $26,875.

In fiscal year 2009, NOM’s revenue rose to $7.4 million, according to its 2009 tax return, the most recent that is available to the public. NOM’s expenses were reported to be $7.5 million. All paid officers got a raise: Corkery made double, $48,000; Gallagher earned $92,500, more than three times her salary in 2008. Brown earned $154,167.

To supporters who subscribed to NOM’s email list throughout 2008 and 2009, Brown -– and sometimes Gallagher –- regularly emailed solicitation for donations, asking for small amounts of money (“Can you give $50, $500, or even $5,000 to support marriage? Can you afford to pledge even $1 a month to support marriage?”) and emphasizing the importance of grassroots fundraising.

“NOM is a grassroots organization that depends on the contributions of thousands of ordinary Americans to make our voices and values heard,” Brown wrote in an email dated Aug. 7, 2009, adding that at that time, the group’s donors had grown from 8,000 to 30,000.

However, as The American Independent has reported in the past, the NOM has historically received most of its funding from a few large donors. And the amount of individual high-dollar donations has increased from year to year.

From 2007 (PDF) to 2008 (PDF), NOM reported receiving $471,549 and $2,967,495, respectively, in “gifts, grants, contributions, and membership fees.”

According to the list of donations at or above $5,000 provided in the 2007 tax return, NOM reported receiving $492,500 from 15 people. The average donation was approximately $32,800. The median donation was $20,000.

In 2008, NOM reported receiving $2,161,000 from 52 donors. The average donation was $40,000. One single donation was $450,000. These large donations represent approximately 73 percent of NOM’s “gifts, grants, contributions, and membership fees” in 2008.

In 2009, even larger contributions came from even fewer sources. NOM reported receiving approximately $7.1 million in donations that year. Only 14 individuals donated amounts at or above $5,000 for a total of approximately $5.5 million, representing about 78 percent of the total donations. The average of these donations was nearly $40,000. Approximately 68 percent of all the donations from NOM’s supposed 30,000 donors in 2009 came from just three individual groups, in the amounts of $1.1 million, $1.2 million, and $2.5 million.

“AT NOM we are 500,000 people who believe in standing up straight and tall together for God’s truth about marriage in Maine and all across this great country,” wrote Brown in an email to subscribers dated Aug. 26, 2009.

Due to recent rulings that NOM must disclose its big-name sources, in recent campaign emails, Brown has not promised donors anonymity but has pushed the group’s self-appointed grassroots identity. In an email dated July 14, 2011, Brown solicited donations to reverse New York’s recent same-sex marriage legalization:

“I am asking you today to fight back against those who want to decriminalize polygamy, penalize conscience, normalize infidelity, and reward lying,” he wrote. “Please be one of the 100 who contribute $10, the ten who contribute $100—or give more for marriage today!

Arizona Gov. Brewer signs bill allowing churches political power

Posted on: April 18th, 2011 by Sofia Resnick 3 Comments

Image by Matt MahurinOn the week of the one-year anniversary of Arizona’s controversial anti-immigration bill — which has provoked copycats throughout the country — Republican Gov. Jan Brewer signed controversial legislation concerning the political clout of religious institutions, among other issues. (more…)