Mormon Church Agrees to Pay Campaign Finance Fine
By MALIA WOLLAN
SAN FRANCISCO — The Mormon Church has agreed to pay a fine of slightly more than $5,000 for failing to report some campaign staff contributions it made in support of Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot measure that outlawed same-sex marriage.
According to the Fair Political Practices Commission's Web site, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints "failed to timely report making late non-monetary contributions totaling $36,928." The commission had requested the church pay $5,539 in fines, which it has done, and the commission will meet to vote on finalizing the penalty on Thursday in Sacramento.
In a statement, the church claimed that all the contributions it made in support of Proposition 8, "were reported to the appropriate authorities in California." But it admitted that in the last two weeks of the highly contested campaign, it "mistakenly overlooked the daily reporting requirement for non-monetary contributions," which would include things like staff time. The church's statement called the reporting failure an "oversight" and thanked the commission for its "fairness and consideration" in dealing with the matter.
The commission began their investigation into the Mormon Church's contributions after a complaint was filed by Fred Karger, founder of the group Californians Against Hate, asserting that the church failed to fully disclose the time and money it spent on Proposition 8, which passed with 52 percent of the vote.
On Wednesday, Mr. Karger — who is openly gay and has expressed interest in running for the 2012 Republican nomination for president — sounded satisfied with the commission's expected decision.
"The Mormon church has been leading the charge to create constitutional amendments to take away marriage equality from gay and lesbian people all over this country and they've been doing it dishonestly and in the dark of night," said Mr. Karger, who referred to the situation as "Mormon-gate" when reached by phone. "I blew the whistle and they got caught for violating the law," he said.