Prop 8 contributions must be public, judge rules

The identities of past, present and future contributors to committees that backed California’s Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot measure amending the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage, must remain publicly disclosed, a federal judge ruled today.

ProtectMarriage.com–Yes on 8 and the National Organization for Marriage-California had challenged the state Political Reform Act’s campaign disclosure requirements for contributions to ballot measure committees, arguing individual donors to this measure should be treated the same as members of groups such as the NAACP in the 1960’s and be exempt from disclosure.

Contributions to the Yes on 8 campaign already are public. The plaintiffs had wanted the court to permanently block future disclosure of all of contributors to such groups, expunge all records of past contributions, and invalidate as unconstitutional the state law’s $100 disclosure threshold for contributors to ballot measure committees.

But U.S. District Judge Morrison England Jr. of Sacramento ruled from the bench today in favor of the defendants including the Fair Political Practices Commission, the state attorney general and the California secretary of state.

The FPPC issued a news release saying the Yes on 8 committees’ arguments “attacking the Act’s disclosure laws that exist to serve and inform the People of the State of California were ultimately too weak to overcome this State’s important interest in, as Judge England stated, instilling sunshine into the initiative process.”

“They sought to permanently enjoin the future disclosure of all of plaintiffs’, and groups like plaintiffs, contributors, expunge the records of all of plaintiffs’ past contributors, and to invalidate as unconstitutional the Act’s $100 disclosure threshold for contributors to ballot measure committees, among other things,” the FPPC’s release continued. “The Commission vigorously and successfully defended all of the Act’s challenged provisions. The Judge’s decision denying plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment and granting the Defendants’ cross motion on all counts will be followed up with a written order.”

I’ve reached out to various Yes-on-8 spokespeople and attorneys, and will update this item if/when they respond.

UPDATE @ 6:29 P.M.: This just in via e-mail from ProtectMarriage.com Executive Director Ron Prentice:

“Campaign disclosure laws were enacted in order to give the public knowledge of a campaign’s primary financial sponsors. To think that donations of $100 represent major donors – in an $82 million battle – is ridiculous on its face. In addition, the evidence of using these public lists to intimidate and harass is plain. The court’s disregard of this fact will contribute to ongoing abuse of the initiative process.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • RR, Senile Columnist

    Abolish the Political Correctness Commission, aka FPPC. It is a waste of money.

  • Truthclubber

    The use of the initiative process WITHOUT the review (and exposure) of who is giving what to whom (as is the case with Federal campaigns, which require that anyone giving $200 or more to a Billion dollar campaign like Barack Obama’s, or Mitt Romney’s, be disclosed) is a major “abuse of the initiative process”.

    Democracy must always be more than “one dollar, one vote” — because if it is not, then the fascists like Hellwoody win.

    “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants” (for corrupt politics…) — Louis Brandeis, 1913

    “I am the 99%”, but not by much… 😉