The Courage Campaign and HRC released a new ad today asking Californians to call senate candidate Carly Fiorina and demand she reject the extremism of NOM – one of her campaign’s biggest financial backers. The ad – running in the LA Times, Sacramento Bee and San Francisco Chronicle – features disturbing clips of NOM supporters from rallies, in which they can be seen and heard calling for the murder of gays and lesbians.
Check out the full ad and share it to help us spread the message:
Fiorina recently refused to condemn a Spanish-language NOM-backed ad supporting her, despite PolitiFact.com labeling the ad’s content as false. It’s no surprise -– NOM has poured more than $220,000 into expenditures supporting her campaign. But confronted with the hateful messages of NOM’s supporters, will Fiorina do the right thing or continue bowing to special interest dollars from outside of the state?
UPDATE: Here are excerpts from our press release:
“Californians deserve to know the truth about the out-of-state extremist group that’s allied itself with Carly Fiorina,” said Courage Campaign Chairman and Founder Rick Jacobs. “Time and again, the National Organization for Marriage has shown itself to be one of the most toxic elements in the political process, willing to use any means, — including tolerance of hate speech and refusal to comply with federal tax and election laws — to advance an agenda that advocates discrimination against millions of loving families and promotes an environment that leads LGBT teens to take their own lives.”
“Will Carly Fiorina continue to associate herself with a radical fringe group like the National Organization for Marriage, or will she reject the anti-gay animus NOM stands for?” asked Joe Solmonese, HRC president
The ad also highlights NOM’s ongoing legal problems, which include refusing to comply with the election and disclosure laws of nearly a half dozen states, including California, as well as funneling charitable resources into political campaigns. The latter was the subject of a September 20th story in the Washington Independent, as well as an IRS complaint that the Human Rights Campaign and Courage Campaign filed against NOM’s San Diego based tax-exempt arm, called the Ruth Institute, last week.
NOM President Brian Brown told the Washington Post the other morning that HRC and the Courage Campaign are “trying to silence us and make it hard for us to operate.” First off, let’s dispense with the victim complex. It’s unflattering for an anti-gay fringe group like NOM that is well out of the mainstream to claim victimhood. NOM is experiencing the most successful growth in its three-year history, raking in $10 million this year. They’re hardly having difficulty operating.
On the substance: Brown says the allegations HRC and the Courage Campaign are making against the NOM Education Fund and its sister organization, the Ruth Institute, are “laughable.” While Brown might love a good belly laugh, nothing about this is funny. The evidence of wrongdoing by the NOM Education Fund and the Ruth Institute this election cycle speaks for itself.
The Post reported that Brown said, “Morse [the head of the Ruth Institute] participated in many events as a private citizen.” Not the case. Video not does lie. She was introduced in her professional capacity at the campaign bus tour advocating for Carly Fiorina’s senate campaign in California. She held up her organization’s bumper sticker. And on and on…(see Exhibits A-H of the complaint.)
Brown acknowledged one of the items mentioned in the complaint, which, according to the Post, he called a simple mistake. He was referring to a NOM press release that NOM has since scrubbed placing both NOM and the Ruth Institute at that Firorina campaign event on October 4.
We’ll say it again: NOM has every right to promote their views against marriage equality within the very clear confines of election and tax law.
HRC and the Courage Campaign today announced they are filing a formal complaint with the Internal Revenue Service asking it to immediately investigate the Ruth Institute, part of the NOM’s Education Fund. The complaint, found here, requests the IRS revoke the Ruth Institute’s tax-exempt status and seek an injunction to prevent future violations by either the Ruth Institute or the NOM Education Fund.
The complaint makes clear the Ruth Institute “has repeatedly and flagrantly violated the political campaign activity prohibition of section 501(c) (3) by intervening and participating in multiple candidate campaigns. In the past year Ruth Institute resources have illegally been used to advocate for a U.S. Senate candidate as well as local and statewide judicial candidates.” HRC and the Courage Campaign cite the repeated involvement of the Ruth Institute in Carly Fiorina’s Senate race and in judicial elections in California and Iowa as clear violations of federal law.
“The evidence that the Ruth Institute and the NOM Education Fund repeatedly stepped over the line into illegal activity is indisputable,” said HRC President Joe Solmonese. “Even fringe groups like NOM, its associates, and its affiliate groups must abide by federal law. Is the Ruth Institute nothing more than a front and funnel for NOM’s political activities? We trust the IRS can unveil the truth.”
“Time and again, NOM has shown itself as a radical extremist group bent on attacking families and undermining election laws,” said Courage Campaign Chairman and Founder Rick Jacobs. “By openly flouting IRS regulations governing charities, NOM is effectively forcing taxpayers to subsidize its political activities. This is not just the height of arrogance, it’s against the law.”
Pursuant to the federal tax code, as a charitable organization, the Ruth Institute may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates. Violation of this prohibition can result in stiff penalties against the organization and its officials as well as potential revocation of its tax exempt status by IRS.
The Ruth Institute and Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, in her capacity as president of The Ruth Institute, have participated in activities advocating the election of Carly Fiorina to the United States Senate in coordination with NOM, which has already spent close to $200,000 on the race through multiple independent expenditures. Evidence of the Ruth’s Institute’s participation in these activities includes:
A NOM-issued press release titled “National Organization for Marriage and Ruth Institute Join Bus Tour Supporting Carly Fiorina in California.” The September 28th release stated that “Brian Brown, president of NOM, and Jennifer Roback Morse, president of The Ruth Institute, a project of NOM’s Marriage Education Fund, will both be supporting the “Vota Tus Valores” bus tour as it makes its way around California” and that Morse would appear at a San Diego campaign event on October 4. (NOM has since removed their press release from its web site. It can be found here.)
Videotape of the October 4th appearance by Morse at the campaign event for Fiorina. Speaking in front of a bus emblazoned with “Vota Fiorina,” Morse said, “We’re the Ruth Institute … if you go and look at ruthinstitute.org, you’ll find out all about us… We’re here, and we’re here to serve, we’re here to serve the whole body of Christ… That’s what we’re here for, and we’re very proud to be part of this electoral effort (4:50 into the videotape).”
A Ruth Institute podcast containing Morse’s speech on behalf of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Values, described on the Ruth Institute website as “an independent expenditure group supporting Carly Fiorina’s bid for California Senator.” (This, too, has been scrubbed. It can be found here.)
Ruth Institute website content promoting Fiorina’s candidacy and Morse’s involvement in the campaign effort.
The Ruth Institute has also intervened in campaigns to elect San Diego County judges as part of a candidate slate supported by an organization called Better Courts Now. Better Courts Now endorsed a slate of four judicial candidates in the California primary election on June 8, 2010. The evidence includes Ruth Institute website content and video endorsing Better Courts Now and encouraging readers to support its candidate slate.
In Iowa, three of the justices of the state Supreme Court face a retention election this November. The Ruth Institute has advocated their recall, which is political intervention in violation of Section 501(c)(3). The Ruth Institute website made the case for “Why the Iowa Judges Have to Go” two days after NOM reported spending $235,000 on independent expenditure television ads calling for the rejection of the justices.
Today’s complaint follows a September 20th Washington Independent story that suggested NOM had funneled millions more in tax-exempt donations from charitable groups into other political campaigns.
NOM is fighting campaign finance laws in a number of states, including New York, Washington, California and Maine, where it remains under investigation by the Maine Ethics Commission for failing to register with the state as a ballot question committee and refusing to disclose the donors to its campaign to overturn Maine’s marriage equality law in 2009.
The Washington Post broke the story earlier tonight. Here are the key grafs:
The 2010 midterm elections are likely to set records for spending by outside interest groups – and are already setting a healthy pace for complaints with the Federal Election Commission and the Internal Revenue Service.
Another example is likely to come Thursday, with two gay rights organizations, the Human Rights Campaign and the Courage Campaign, planning to file an IRS complaint over the tax status of one of their most vocal opponents.
The groups allege that the Ruth Institute, an arm of the National Organization for Marriage, has violated rules forbidding charities to get involved in political races. NOM, which opposes legalizing same-sex marriage, denies the allegation.
The complaint, a copy of which was provided to The Washington Post, points to evidence that the president of the Ruth Institute, Jennifer Roback Morse, has actively participated in events in favor of Carly Fiorina, the Republican candidate for Senate in California.
More from HRC below, on our NOM Exposed web site — Eden
We all know by now the National Organization for Marriage “Education Fund” and its affiliated Ruth Institute are ruthless in selling their anti-gay rage. But they got reckless.
Tomorrow the Human Rights Campaign and the Courage Campaign will formally request that the Internal Revenue Service immediately investigate the Ruth Institute’s illegal political campaign activities. We will be asking the IRS to revoke the Ruth Institute’s tax-exempt status and seek an injunction to prevent future violations by either the Ruth Institute or the NOM Education Fund. Complaint is here.
The evidence—video, public statements, and campaign appearances by NOM or its Institute—speaks for itself. And we must have struck a chord. NOM and its associates have been busy scrubbing their web sites in recent days. Oh, so coy.
Charitable organizations like the Ruth Institute are supposed to be—in the eyes of the law—in the business of charity–not out there on the stump supporting political candidates. Even fringe, rabidly anti-gay groups must obey the law. They have every right to promote their views against marriage equality. But they have to do it within the confines of the law.
As NOM’s California bus tour comes to a close, so must my time here managing P8TT/NTT (again), as I have to focus on some other election-related projects. So tomorrow will be my last day. Of course I’ll be around in the comments and occasionally do a piece, but the reins will be turned back over to Eden and the rest of the P8TT front-page crew. In the future, you can continue to always find me at my home blog, OpenLeft.com. And I’ll be guesting through Election Day at Crooks and Liars, a popular vlog (video blog), with a special focus on the 2010 elections and progressive, pro-equality candidates. Lastly, if you really, really like me, my Tweets can be fun and useful.
On a personal note, I’d just like to say that it’s been fun to be here. You all continue to wow me with your research, creativity, and passion. I hope you’ve enjoyed my stuff as well!
A couple reflections on the NOM tour. Back last month I rejoined P8TT quoting “we’re putting the band back together!” from Blues Brothers. As the NOM Tour and I come to a close, I have another musical reference I’d like to use. As I was thinking about how much of a disaster this tour was, and the close to it, I thought of a song titled “The Last Stop” by my favorite band, the Dave Matthews Band. The song (as I interpret it) is about religion and how it often drives one to violence.
There are two lyric stanzas I want to pull out as I feel they relate to NOM. Here’s the first:
You’re righteous, so righteous
You’re always so right
Go ahead and dream
Go ahead believe that you are the chosen one
I think it describes the attitude of NOM/Vota Tus Valores folks very well, don’t you?
Although I think the “Summer for Empty Parking Lots Marriage” tour was pretty religious, particularly because more events were held in houses of worship, the undertones of religion felt pretty strong on the California tour as well. I say that because throughout this tour we saw Alfonso, Jennifer and their dour band of followers tell Latinos what their values are, tell religious people what Genesis really says, and tell us all what our values should be and therefore where our vote should go, because that is how they interpret it. And they’re always so righteous, so right, always the chosen ones.
I don’t doubt they’ll think “well, Adam’s just imposing his righteous values on us!” Not quite. I, on the other hand (and notice I didn’t say “we”, because I don’t presume to speak for everyone as they do), believe in expanding equality and policies that don’t hurt others while spreading equality, such as the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. That’s different than eliminating rights and going out of my way to do so. That’s different than using my righteous attitude to take away the rights of others. No one’s “traditional” marriage has been damaged, here. I’m just a regular guy trying to spread a little more love and a little more equality without taking away anything from anyone, not any kind of chosen one bringing my beliefs to bear on everyone else.
This is the last stop on the tour, but it’s not the last stop for the hatred and bullying that’s propagated by NOM’s actions. As I’ve written in the past few days, they are no different than these bullies — or the adults who influence them — and that’s part of why I keep doing what I do, and hope you will, too. Dave Matthews wrote about peace in the war sense, but I believe it applies in this environment: hate is not the gate to peace if peace is where everyone is heterosexual and in a nuclear family. People are different and must be treated equally, and the sooner NOM learns that, the more peace we’ll have — not just in schools between heterosexual kids and LGBT kids, but in our nation as a whole.
A coupla things going on around and about in NOM news:
P8TT friend Karen Ocamb reports that NOM is launching a new Spanish-language ad in California in support of Carly Fiorina:
“Our values make our people special.
Work. Family. Children.
Barbara Boxer doesn’t share our values.
She supports abortion and homosexual marriage…
…and voted against immigration reform to permit our people to come here legally to work.
We’ve had enough of her talk.
Carly Fiorina for US Senate. Our values. Our senator.”
NOM is spending $200,000 on the ad, which will air on Telemundo, Telefutura and Univision for one week in the San Diego, Los Angeles and Fresno markets beginning today. And hey, look what got a mention in their press release too:
The effort coincides with a $100,000 SBA List voter education effort including a Google ad campaign focusing on California Latino voters and a “Vota Tus Valores” bus tour sponsored by SBA List, NOM and the American Principles Project making 43 stops in Latino neighborhoods throughout the state.
Funny, because their original announcement said 42 stops, and they ended up with 38 because they skipped a few. We’ve got the Google cache to prove it.
Comically and perhaps coincidentally, I see they also launched a one-week “moneybomb” aiming to raise $200,000 – two hundred thousand dollars – in just one week in response to the NOMExposed.org website HRC and Courage Campaign launched earlier this week (per the banner at the top of the page). It’s weird because the ask is all over the map. They write:
Our goal for the ExposingNOMExposed Money Bomb is to raise $200,000 in one week.
All of that will be doubled by our matching grant so you will have effectively raised $400,000.
All donations will be doubled up to $1 million.
Huh? And in their e-mail blast announcing this yesterday:
On Friday evening, we’ll let everyone know just how many people donated and how much money we raised. We have just three days left to raise $185,000 to reach our goal.
Highlights of last night’s debate between Maggie and Freedom to Marry’s Evan Wolfson can be found here. Maggie, as usual, said her signature line, “It is not discrimination to treat things differently.” Awesome. Evan made a great point here:
“When women began practicing law, there was no new word for lawyer, or change in what a lawyer was,” he said, likening the ongoing campaign for gay marriage to the women’s suffrage movement. “When they were allowed to vote, there was not change in the definition of voters.”
Is it just me, or are you also disappointed that Brian Brown and all his nonsense backed out on coming to California? Maybe he decided filing another lawsuit to go around state disclosure laws was more fun than a sad, sad bus tour. Maybe he saw Vota Tus Valores averaged, what, 3.4 people per stop and suddenly came down with a bad case of shingles. What happened?
The Washington Times profiles Hispanic voters for the upcoming election, and quotes Alfonso Aguilar:
“When conservatives reach out to Latinos and you have a candidate that is staunchly conservative on social issues but also has a palatable position on immigration, Latino voters will respond favorably,” he said.
Rubbing my eyes
Did he really just say “palatable position on immigration”?
Mr. Aguilar is finishing a 10-day bus tour in California trying to spur Hispanic support for Carly Fiorina, the Republican nominee who is trying to unseat Sen. Barbara Boxer, a Democrat. Mr. Aguilar said many Hispanic voters are pro-life and oppose gay marriage and are open to his pitch to back Mrs. Fiorina.
“The lesson for conservatives from that poll is if you reach out to Latinos they’ll respond favorably. Obviously, if you just go out with negative rhetoric on immigration and enforcement-only positions on immigration, you’re not going to do better,” he said.
Amusingly, the only comment on the piece as of 8 AM PST this morning (from user “3bdf9″) calls Alfonso out on his credibility:
For information on how wildly unsuccessful Mr. Aguilar’s bus tour was (our estimate, they talked to possibly a total of 75 to 100 Latinos on the total 10 day $1,000,000 tour) please check out Prop8TrialTracker.com. The entire Votabus tour from start to finish was documented by a Courage Campaign team on the ground that followed the bus from stop to stop. They would have just gone to the next announced stop on the tour, but the bus repeatedly varied from its schedule to go to restaurants, other locations, or skip stops entirely. They did not seem to have either permits, or permissions for any of the stops they announced, and as the tour progressed, they were turned away or thrown out of announced locations. Even the Spanish that was written on the bus was clumsy, using the wrong form of address, as though it had been written by non-Spanish speakers using an online free translator. The fiasco is documented with videos, pictures and first hand accounts.
Equality on Trial's Case Timeline is the go-to place to find thorough, up-to-date information on the myriad of marriage equality lawsuits taking place across the US.
Welcome to Equality on Trial!
Got suggestions? Questions? Notice bugs? Email us here.
Connect With Us
Want to submit a guest piece for publication on Equality On Trial? Submit your piece with your byline, title and any appropriate links (and HTML if possible) to: equalityontrial [at] couragecampaign [dot] org.