Florida4Marriage Illegally Hides Donors
We already knew John Stemberger, the head of Florida4Marriage, has sent emails detailing how donors could illegally skirt campaign finance reporting laws by funneling money through a non-profit organization, Florida Family Action, which he appears to have established for just that purpose. Stemberger sent out emails to contributors encouraging them to donate through the 501(c)(4) since donor names do not have to be publicly disclosed- to the tune of over $750,000 since 2005.
Here are some lowlights from the confidential email to his donors (you can view the full email here):
From: John Stemberger [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, September 02, 2008 12:55 AM
Subject: Strategic Budget for Yes2Marriage.org
Dear Pro-Family Leader:
Would you please take 2 minutes to read this important plea?
Enclosed is a copy of our confidential and strategic budget for the remainder of the marriage amendment campaign in Florida. From the time we started collecting petitions in February of 2005, we have raised and spent in both cash and in kind contributions, just under one million dollars. For the remainder of our campaign, we need to raise an additional 2 million dollars at a minimum over the next 45 days to maximize the opportunity to reach the 60% vote needed to win on November 4, 2008. (Florida is the only state in the nation that requires a 60% vote to pass constitutional amendments)
The enclosed document is an itemized budget of the final 9 components we need to purchase in order to have a viable campaign and to be victorious.
If you have the ability to help this effort with a contribution we would be grateful. Or if know someone we could approach to request significant funding, please let me know. Please feel free to show this appeal to potential donors but this is a CONFIDENTIAL document as it contains key strategy elements so be very discreet in who you share it with and make sure they support the issue before forwarding these attachments.
State Chairman, www.Yes2Marriage.org
President, Florida Family Policy Council www.FLfamily.org
PS- If you do not have the ability to help financially, would you please just earnestly pray for God's favor to open the storehouse of his resources? Political campaigns come and go and are funded with insane amounts of money. But it is once in a life time that we get the opportunity to preserve a human institution as important as marriage.
Budget Priorities Itemized
Quinnipiac Poll Map
Historical Comparison of Polling and Outcomes
Details on Options for Contributions
Fact Sheet on the Amendment
The important thing to note here is the "Details on Options for Contributions." In this attachment, he lays out the way for donors to remain anonymous, which is illegal under Florida Campaign Laws.
Stemberger's "Options for Contributions"
In this attachment, Stemberger tells donors how to remain anonymous by listing the groups he has created in "preferred donation" order, starting with his bogus non-profit (see a copy of the attachment here):
To support efforts for the Florida Marriage Protection Amendment, contributions can be made to any of these 3 organizations below. They are listed in the order of preference on which organizations we would like to see the gifts go to, but we can take contributions made payable to any three of these groups to further the cause:
Florida Family Action
501(c)(4) Lobbying Organization under the IRS code
Gifts ARE NOT tax deductible
EIN # 3311008736
Confidential Gift with no public disclosure
Political Committee under Florida Law
Public Campaign Contribution
Gifts ARE NOT tax deductible
Gifts ARE publicly reported
Florida Family Policy Council
501(c)(3) non profit educational organization under the IRS code
Gifts ARE tax deductible
EIN # 522436800
Confidential Gift with no public disclosure but gifts are strictly limited to educational efforts, voter registration and pastors conferences.
There are no legal amount limitations on gifts made to any of the above organizations and either individual or corporate checks can be accepted to all 3 of these organizations.
All gifts can be mailed to this address:
4853 South Orange Avenue, Orlando, FL 32806 Phone 407-251-1957
The intent to illegally funnel funds and hide donors is clear. All the organizations are run by Stemberger (note they all have the same address) and this attachment is a map on how to break Florida Law.
But what are they spending these illegal funds on? Where has that $750,000 gone? Let's look at the other attachment of interest, the "Budget Priorities Itemized."
Following Florida4Marriage's Dirty Money Trail
Stemberger lays out in the next attachment (view here) exactly what they need the secret money for:
Yes2Marriage.org Campaign Strategic Budget Items
1) Internal Voter File Scrub
1 million names, update addresses and names- $ 5,500.
2) Absentee Ballot Program
500,000 voters: ID, Direct Mail, Robo Call- $561,000.
3) Final Push Follow up Poll and Message Testing
801 Voters, 22 questions- $ 20,000.
4) Automated Rapid Response Robo Calls
3 million households, 30 seconds, 3 cents per call- $90,000.
5)GOTV Church Bulletin Inserts
4 Million Inserts Plus Freight Drop to 67 counties- $75,000.
6) Final Run of Yard Signs for GOTV:
50,000 signs and stands at $2 per sign- $100,000.
7) Soft Yes Radio Market: Oldies, Country, Latin, Gospel
2 Weeks-- Matching Grant of $75,000- $75,000.
8) Passion of the Christ E-mail Blast
3 separate blasts of 5 million voters in Florida- $15,000.
Strategic Target Markets: 14 days- $1,000,000.
Did they succeed in their scheme? It would appear so. Examples of the amount of campaign expenditures paid for "in-kind" by Florida Family Action are:
Campaign Expenditure (Paid for In-Kind by Florida Family Action)
Professional Services ($64,512)
Automated Telephone Calls ($40,000)
Printing (Signs, banners, bumper stickers, etc.) ($39,998)
Contract Labor ($22,798)
Focus Groups ($18,000)
Website & Technology ($14,583)
Of the total contributions to Florida4Marriage.org at last reporting (approximately $1,500,000), roughly 52% came from Florida Family Action.
Most recently, Florida4Marriage reported an in-kind contribution of $350,000 from Florida Family Action for the purchase of advertising. This is odd, since the ads all say "paid for and approved by Florida4Marriage", not Florida Family Action. In fact, at least three media outlets- WTSP Tampa, WTVT Tampa Bay, and WKMG Orlando- have confirmed that the name of the organization for which the purchases were made is Florida4Marriage.org although no direct expenditure from the campaign account for these media buys has been reported.
It seems illegal identification of ads goes along with the dirty money expenditures...
More Dirty, Anonymous Money from Out of State
Even with the lawsuit and campaign complaints, the money funneling scheme isn't stopping. In an email from the California based group "Citizens For A Better America" continues the scheme of not reporting donors (see the full email here):
Saturday, October 18, 2008
An Open Letter and Invitation To:
Florida Christian Pastors and Leaders
For Immediate Release:
Dear Christian Pastor or Leader:
We at Citizens For A Better America (R) (CFABA.ORG) are sending this Open Letter to Christian Pastors and Leaders in the state of Florida with public e-mail addresses on public websites. If you have received this Open Letter by mistake, my apologies.
If you believe with me that homosexual marriage is not supported by the Word of God, the Holy Bible, then please continue to read this letter.
05. Please seriously consider helping us to counteract the opposition's message. You can do so by sending a contribution of up to $199.00, without us having to list your identity with Federal election commission (FEC.GOV).
If you just cannot afford to send as a contribution of $199.00, then please send us $20 to support 2. Then, tell 20 friends to vote "YES on 2", and ask them to tell 20 more friends...
Again the idea is to shield donors from public campaign disclosure laws.
Stemberger Admits to Dirty Money Scheme
In an interview with the Florida-Times Union Newspaper, Stemberger said he was indeed shielding donors:
Some people want to remain anonymous. It's because of the intimidation of our opponents.
These secret donors may be ashamed of donating to this amendment, but the law says they must disclose their actions.
So where does this leave Florida4Marriage and Stemberger? It leaves them fighting to keep their ads on the air, as well as keep public opinion from turning further against them. After all, if a campaign is willing to so blatantly break the law and lie, it creates public doubt about their motives and the truth of their message in general.
This pattern of behavior only highlights what we already know- this campaign is based on lies. They have lied about donors and money sources- and most importantly, about the true impact of this dangerous Amendment.