California to Investigate Mormons' Political Involvement With Prop 8

California's Fair Political Practices Commission, which oversees state campaign finance laws, will launch an inquiry after a complaint was filed on November 13:


California officials will investigate accusations that the Mormon Church neglected to report a battery of nonmonetary contributions -- including phone banks, a Web site and commercials -- on behalf of a ballot measure to ban same-sex marriage.
... The complaint, filed by Fred Karger, founder of the group Californians Against Hate, asserted that the church's reported contributions -- about $5,000, according to state election filings -- vastly underestimated its actual efforts in passing Proposition 8, which amended the state's Constitution to recognize only male-female marriage.
Broadly speaking, California state law requires disclosure of any money spent or services provided to influence the outcome of an election.
... Mr. Karger's complaint paints a sweeping picture of the involvement by the church leadership, and raises questions about who paid for out-of-state phone banks and grass-roots rallies in California before the Nov. 4 vote.
"Who paid for the buses, travel costs, meals and other expenses of all the Mormon participants?" the complaint reads. "No contributions were reported."
The complaint also touches on a five-state simulcast from church leaders to Mormon congregations, as well as a Web site, preservingmarriage.org, that featured a series of videos advocating passage of the ballot measure and is labeled "an official Web site" of the Mormon Church.
...Mr. Karger said he respected the right of Mormons to vote in line with their religious beliefs, but added "if they're going to play politics, then they need to play by the rules."
Indeed.A spokesperson for the church had no comment on the specific accusations, but said they would cooperate with the investigation. One hopes more readily than they complied with the law, ahem.

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