Alex Blaze

California's attorney general defends freedom of information

Filed By Alex Blaze | January 27, 2009 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Attorney General, California, ed brown, freedom of speech, gay marriage, lawsuit, LGBT, marriage, marriage equality, Prop. 8, same-sex marriage

California AG Ed Brown filed a brief in the lawsuit to keep Prop 8 donors' names secret, saying that shielding the names would hurt transparency and the democratic process.

"Political democracy demands open debate, including prompt disclosure of the identities of campaign donors," Brown said. "Backers of Proposition 8 should not be allowed to carve out a special privilege of anonymity for themselves alone."

The brief, filed with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, contends that Proposition 8 supporters do not meet the criteria for the limited exemption to valid campaign disclosure laws - an exemption developed by the Supreme Court to protect the ability of historically persecuted minority parties to engage in political speech.

The fundies who filed this suit (say they) are worried about outside forces having undue influence on ballot measures because people might be too afraid to donate. But if we keep this information hidden, there will be all sorts of behind the scenes quid pro quo going on when it comes to ballot measures (well, a lot more, and it'll be completely invisible to the public).

They've already hidden who knows how much spending on the Prop 8 campaign by using donated services from churches, and now they want the donations to be completely hidden. They seem to want to operate in complete secrecy, which, ironically enough, is what they accuse us of doing. Even though all our donations to the cause are available on the Secretary of State's website, even though we've pretty publicly dissected the No campaign all over the internet, even though our goals are actively transparent....

It's not at all an accident that they attempted to use a law created for "historically persecuted minority parties" to advance their agenda. In their minds, they are the most persecuted minority there is. They're perpetual victims who can't even begin to comprehend the amount of power they actually wield.

Being that delusional alone should prevent them from enacting their agenda in the US, but I suppose we'd be victimizing them again to even point that out.


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lacy panties | January 27, 2009 10:02 PM

They seem to want to operate in complete secrecy

What nerve. They'll probably demand a secret ballot next!

There's a difference between a secret ballot and secret fundraising... everyone gets 1 vote but not everyone has the same amount of money to donate. People have a right to know who's influencing politics.

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | January 28, 2009 7:21 AM

Your reference to "California AG Ed Brown" sent me scurrying to Google wondering if there hadn't been a shakeup in that state's top legal office. I've gotten so used to seeing and saying "Jerry Brown" over time that I had forgotten that his full name is, like his father, Edmund Gerald Brown. Both he and his father served as Governor of California, the former just before, and the other one immediately after, the term of Ronald Reagan. His dad's nickname was "Pat". So Jerry Brown is still in the Attorney General's office, and I just need to get used to "Ed", I guess.

I know! I noticed the same thing, but both times I just went with the first name used in the articles I was linking to.

lacy panties | January 28, 2009 6:52 PM

There's a difference between a secret ballot and secret fundraising... everyone gets 1 vote but not everyone has the same amount of money to donate. People have a right to know who's influencing politics.

Really? Should HRC and Empire State Pride Agenda--in fact, any LBGT organization that works to "influence politics"--be required to reveal the identity of all their donors?

And where do people get the right to know who's influencing politics? Shouldn't my right to privacy give insure that I can be politically active even if I don't care to announce publicly what I'm doing to support causes I favor and work against those I oppose?

Really? Should HRC and Empire State Pride Agenda--in fact, any LBGT organization that works to "influence politics"--be required to reveal the identity of all their donors?

Actually, they did disclose in the case of Prop 8. Check out the CA SoS website.

And, no, the right to privacy doesn't ensure that you can participate in the most public sphere there is - the government - in secrecy. There's a balance of rights here, and when you're writing a check to influence political policy you should disclose, just as people who supported Obama disclosed if they were over the disclosure amounts for their states

lacy panties | January 29, 2009 6:56 AM

Alex, you didn't answer the question, which is whether, as a matter of law, HRC and ESPC and any other organization that seeks to influence politics should be required to routinely reveal the names of donors.