The National Organization for Marriage’s ongoing battle to keep its donors secret has hit another brick wall. The Portland Press Herald reports today that a federal judge has ruled that Maine can compel the anti-gay group to release the identities of its donors and their contributions to the campaign under Maine election law, which requires that any organization which spends more than $500 to affect a ballot proposition must register as a “ballot question committee” and make information on its funding publicly available.
The federal judge did not offer NOM any assurance on its future chances, either, the Portland Press Herald reports:
While a final resolution of the lawsuit is at least several months away, Hornby’s order on Wednesday denied the request for a temporary restraining order, and said the National Organization for Marriage is not likely to succeed on any of its claims.
Hornby said Maine’s ballot question law approaches, but does not cross, the line between essential transparency and protection of an individual’s free speech.
“Maine is entitled to conclude that its electorate needs to know, on an ongoing basis, the source of financial support for those who are taking positions on a ballot initiative,” Hornby wrote in his 32-page ruling.
“I conclude that the state’s interest to provide this information to voters is ‘not only compelling but critical’ to the proper functioning of the system of direct democracy,” Hornby wrote, quoting from a similar case in California in which the National Organization for Marriage is a plaintiff.
Assuming that NOM does not challenge this ruling, Maine’s ethics commission will not take up the issue until Nov. 19, weeks after the election, and a final decision could be months afterward.