Last Thursday, the Iowa Ethics & Campaign Disclosure Board voted unanimously to investigate the anti-gay National Organization for Marriage for potentially violating state election law by refusing to disclose its donors.
The move is a major victory for the man who brought the complaint against NOM, LGBT rights activist and former GOP presidential candidate Fred Karger. According to the complaint, NOM solicited donations specifically for the 2010 and 2012 campaigns to unseat the Iowa Supreme Court justices who voted for marriage equality. Megan Tooker, the ethics board's lawyer and executive director, said that if this is true, the donors' names must be disclosed under state law -- something NOM has thus far failed to do.
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 has pursued NOM for its brazen violations of state and federal campaign finance laws more doggedly than perhaps anyone else, successfully spurring investigations into the group in Iowa, California, and Maine.
But if there's one thing NOM doesn't like, it's being held accountable.
True to form, NOM went into an apoplectic rage over the ethics board's decision to investigate. Brian Brown, the group's perpetually outraged president, called the complaint "frivolous" and a "witch hunt."
But Brown didn't stop there -- he lobbed vicious ad hominem attacks against Karger. From NOM's press release:
"The National Organization for Marriage has violated no campaign finance rules in Iowa, and we decry the decision by the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board to open an investigation," said Brian Brown, NOM's president. "This inquiry is a witch hunt spawned by a delusional homosexual activist who fancies himself becoming the president of the United States and who is a serial filer of frivolous allegations against us whenever we stand up for traditional marriage. The complaint is another attempt to shut down criticism of activist judges and politicians who wish to redefine marriage." (emphasis mine)
In a sign that NOM has dropped all pretensions of being mainstream and is continuing its march to the extreme fringes of the anti-gay right, the press release made repeated use of the word "homosexual" as a pejorative term, which -- as GLAAD points out -- is frequently used to falsely suggest "that gay people are somehow diseased or psychologically/emotionally disordered."
Brown, who is sounding more and more every day like Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and James Dobson, continued:
"We are concerned about the continual use of the legal system by Karger and other homosexual marriage advocates who are intent on denying us and the people of Iowa their civil rights to defend marriage as God created it."
(Note: as Zack Ford points out over at ThinkProgress, by claiming as their goal the defense of marriage "as God created it," NOM is blatantly admitting that they're trying to impose the private religious beliefs of the group's board, members, and donors onto civil society, despite their many protestations to the contrary.)
Brown closes by doing the only thing he does better than frothing and whining: playing the victim.
"We are concerned about media reports quoting officials with the Ethics Board speculating about the allegations against us.. We will vigorously contest any suggestion that NOM has violated the law, and we will aggressively demand that our civil rights, including a presumption of innocence, be honored by Iowa government officials."
See what Brown did there? He's setting himself up so that if NOM loses its case it can claim once again to be the victim -- of government officials, the lubbrul media... anything other than its own unbridled, toxic anti-gay animus.
Fred Karger gave NOM a major spanking, and Brian Brown is throwing a temper tantrum. Someone call the waaambulance.