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Iowa ethics board to investigate National Organization for Marriage

Marriage equality NOM Exposed

Iowa state sealA big victory for openly gay former Republican presidential candidate Fred Karger, who has been pushing for this for several months: the Iowa Ethics & Campaign Disclosure Board voted unanimously this week to investigate the National Organization for Marriage, or NOM, whom Karger accuses of flaunting state law by refusing to disclose its donors during the fight to unseat several Iowa Supreme Court justices who voted in favor of marriage equality.

From the Des Moines Register:

Karger said the D.C.-based group spent $635,000 in 2010 and about $100,000 in 2012 to try to oust four of the justices who were part of a unanimous 2009 decision that allowed same-sex marriage in Iowa.

“We caught them,” Karger told reporters after today’s meeting. “I’m so grateful to the ethics commission.”

Karger, who is openly gay, said it’s important to send a message to the National Organization for Marriage to follow the law because it will likely be a player in Iowa again, seeking to oust Iowa Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, a champion of same-sex marriage rights, and the other three justices who authored the marriage ruling four years ago.

According to the Register, Karger supplied an email from September 2012 in which NOM solicited cash donations to oust the high court justices.  NOM has said that donors’ names do not have to be disclosed if donations were solicited via phone or email.  Megan Tooker, the executive director of the state ethics board, said that NOM’s claim was “absolutely wrong.”

“To be clear, we haven’t found that NOM did anything wrong,” Tooker told the Register. “All we did today is find that it warranted further investigation, so the board will be able to use its subpoena power and get enough information to decide whether or not donors should have been disclosed.”

In 2009, the Iowa Supreme Court voted unanimously to establish marriage equality in the state through a case known as Varnum v. Brien, making Iowa the first non-coastal state to allow same-sex couples to wed.  In 2010, anti-marriage equality advocates, supported by NOM, successfully recalled three of the judges from the Varnum majority during their retention elections.  In 2012, another of the judges, David Wiggins, won his retention vote.

Despite continuous pressure from anti-LGBT forces, Democrats in the state, led in large part by Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal, have held fast in support of marriage equality in Iowa.

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