California Commission to Probe Mormon Church’s Prop 8 Campaigning

The Fair Political Practices Commission has notified the Mormon Church that it will investigate a claim that the LDS church did not disclose the value of non-monetary campaign activities, including phone bank operations from Utah and Idaho that targeted California voters. The complaint was filed Nov. 13 by [Californians Against hate founder ]Fred Karger, an activist who opposed the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage approved by 52 percent of voters on Election Day.

… A spokeswoman said the LDS Church would cooperate with the commission and was confident it had not violated state elections law.

If violations are found, the commission has the ability to assess penalties of up to $5,000 per violation, and in certain cases to file civil lawsuits for up to three times the amount of unreported or inaccurately reported contributions. 

… The LDS church donated about $3,000 to the Yes on 8 campaign, according to reports filed to date with the California Secretary of State. However, church members contributed up to 40 percent of the roughly $40 million raised to back the same-sex marriage ban, Yes on 8 campaign officials have said, and a surge of large donations late in the campaign may well boost that percentage when final reports are filed.

The role of the Mormon Church and other religious organizations, including large monetary contributions by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Knights of Columbus, a Connecticut-based Catholic fraternal organization, have sparked a debate about whether the principle of the separation of church and state was eroded during the Prop. 8 campaign.

At issue in Karger’s complaint is the disclosure of non-monetary contributions, including telephone bank operations allegedly organized by the LDS Church in Rexford, Idaho, and in Utah. Karger, a former political consultant who helped organize boycotts against Yes on 8 donors, said Tuesday that he learned about those operations by reports in local newspapers in those areas.

via San Jose Mercury News: State officials to investigate Mormon Church’s Prop 8 campaign activities

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