Gay Marriage Vote Spending Comes Down To Semantics

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Campaign-style ads that discuss the pros or cons of gay marriage but don’t specifically mention a 2012 vote on a Minnesota constitutional amendment will require less disclosure about who’s financing them, a state board determined Thursday.

State campaign finance regulators approved a two-tiered definition that governs what expenses are subject to disclosure of spending and contribution details. It could mean some financial information is shielded by creative wordsmiths in the debate over the ballot measure defining marriage as only between a man and a woman.

Under the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board’s guidance, ads and other public communications that mention the pending 2012 vote will require routine accounting to regulators. But those that simply bring up the topic and remain silent on why won’t be considered a ballot question expenditure.

The board has grappled since summer on how to shape enforcement guidelines around the contentious ballot campaign expected to spawn millions of dollars of activity on both sides.

Campaign finance board executive director Gary Goldsmith said regulators had decided to “err on the side of speech” in crafting the definition. It’s rooted in past legal challenges on how campaign activity is governed, he said.

The definition gives groups room to make their point without financial disclosure as long as the communication “discusses an issue that is the subject of a ballot question that does not mention the ballot question that addresses the issue; does not mention voting on the issue; and otherwise does not indicate that people will be able to vote on the issue.”

Mike Dean, executive director of Common Cause Minnesota, said the definition will be easy to exploit.

“It has created a completely warped system,” Dean said. “Minnesotans are now going to be in the dark on political spending in 2012 in regards to the constitutional amendment.”

Board member Andrew Lugar said the guidelines shouldn’t prevent the board from investigating borderline ads.

“There may be times when it has to come back to the board and the board has to scrutinize,” Lugar said.

It was one of a series of actions the board took that complicate tracking of spending in the amendment debate. The source of underlying donations to groups who contribute to like-minded organizations may not be fully itemized as long as the transfers don’t exceed $5,000. Even with larger rerouted contributions, there will be exceptions that could mask complete disclosure of the original source.

A spokesman for Minnesota for Marriage, which is pushing to adopt the constitutional amendment, had little to say about the board’s decision. The group and its allies have flooded the campaign board with questions about various disclosure scenarios, which prompted some of Thursday’s decisions.

“It’s meaty,” said the spokesman, Chuck Darrell. “We have to take some time to look at it.”

Richard Carlbom, the campaign manager for Minnesotans United for All Families, which wants to defeat the amendment, said the board’s decisions match his group’s understanding of the law.

“We are proud of those who contribute to our broad coalition,” he said. “We will comply with all disclosure laws required by law.”

Campaign reports covering 2011 fundraising and expenses by candidates, political parties and outside groups are due Jan. 31. They won’t have to report figures again until mid-July.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • Jake

    What about the Gomorrahi strategy?

  • V

    That is OK by me… we know who the haters are anyways! again you vote with your money, if you shop or buy anything from the corporations that we already know that support the anti-gay laws, then you are supporting them.

  • Pat

    No one cares if two men want to have sex with each other and pretend they are married.

    However, most people do not believe two men having sex with each other entitles them to government benefits.

    This is ALL about money.

    • jackactionhero

      This isn’t about two men having sex with each other.

      We’re talking about committed, loving relationships. It doesn’t need to be men either.

      Why would you discourage legally sanctioned, long-term, loving relationships between two adults?

      • Fire Captain

        And why would we want to prevent hot girl-on-girl action?

        • ?

          no kidding what is more beautiful then that. Dale gribble you have to at least agree with that lol.

          • Dale Gribble

            Eternal damnation is no laughing matter. Perhaps you don’t care about other’s souls, but I do. Shame on you.

            • ?

              oh darn Eternal damnation watching hot girl on girl action SIGN ME UP YEA. Better then being on my knee’s in heaven pleasing a lord and savior lol wow you conservatives are always good for a laugh. People should enjoy their lives and have fun and not have tools like you make them feel bad about it.

            • Jethro

              And who’s decide where we go Mr. Gribble. Sorry Dale that is for your “big man in the sky to determine” personally girl on girl is ok with my god.

    • G Dog

      It’s about RIGHTS, Einstein.

      • Pat.

        It’s about money dummy.

        Why else would they care?

        • jackactionhero

          Maybe the question should be asked of you, Pat. Why do YOU care so much?

          Did you read the story of the parent award winner on CCO just a couple days ago? Gay couple. Married with children.

          Please detail for me how their marriage has ruined your life so far. Please be specific. Thanks.

    • james2


      Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries come to mind. It was pretend and they made money too. Very holy matrimony indeed, with all of the legal rights.

      And then divorce which certainly does NOTHING to keep the sanctity of marriage, or am I missing something?

  • Tom

    Social Conservatives are the biggest hyprocrits! For people who say they believe in personal freedoms, just as long as the rest of believe in their nutty version of it.

    maybe we should pass a law and ban marriage altogether and just let people live together!

  • Birdie

    What people don’t seem to realize is that gay marriage is already illegal in the state of MN. This is not only explicitly redundant, but a waste of money and clearly a power trip for those who thought this to be imperative. It’s been 47 years since the Civil Rights Act; in 47 years the concept of discriminating against others on the basis of sexual orientation will be as archaic as racial and gender discrimination is today.

  • ?

    What agenda would that be? Besides not all gay people are sodomite you closed minded GOP tool.

    • Dale's boyfriend

      More Dribble from the Gribble, Parents can teach whatever they want, however, despite that kids are gay, or not, and will soon enough think for themselves.

      • Crqazy Joe

        DALE! you cheetin on me boy?

    • Kevin

      Im with you Dale! They should all climb back into the closet……..Federal Hate Crime my arse……one mans Federal Hate Crime is another mans fun weekend….

      • jackactionhero

        Please describe this federal hate crime that you find to be a fun weekend, Kevin. I’m curious. How far does your hatred go?

  • Cats and Dogs Living Together


  • Listen UP

    Everybody listen up.

    Is the reason that some of you do not want gays to marry because of the sex thing? Well if they are allowed to marry they will be less promiscuous, have less sex and be just as miserable as the rest of us.So I say let them marry and everybody wins.

  • dphilips

    let people be people you hillbillies

  • Ted

    Woohoo! Flame war!

  • Kevin

    I love Gay’s….as long as both the chicks are hot…….

    • Kevin's boyfriend

      @Kevin, that’s diversity for ya. Now get back to bed and snuggle me, you know.

  • Jake

    No it doesn’t. It comes down to common sense, which is becoming increasingly rare in the twin cities. The politicians, and even the churches, are selling out to the gay lobby over MONEY, the root of all evil, and they eventually will be consumed by it.

    • jackactionhero

      the gay lobby? And what will the “gay lobby” get as a prize when the war has ended, Jake? I want details please.

  • Fred F.

    The amendment is a monumental waste of time and money. Same-sex marriages will eventually be legal and the fearful will realize that the sky won’t fall.

    • Ceasar

      That’s what they said in Rome.

      • Jake

        Ceasar, somehow, I have a feeling that you are on to something here….. Didn’t Hitler say something similar??

        • jackactionhero

          Yep. Hitler tried to herd the gays together with the Jews and kill them all.

          So you are correct. You two definitely do sound like Hitler. Way to go.

  • Floater

    Dale Gribble is like the turd you just can’t flush….he keeps popping up.

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  • Mark

    In our declarationof independance it states that we have the rights of Life, Liberty, and the pusuit of happiness.

    My marriage is in no danger by two men or two women wanting the same happiness I have found in my relationship of over 20 years.

    Why should we be involved in the legislation of love? Do we wish to make certain that we stay within our own racial group as well, like they did in some states not that long ago?

    I do not understand how some can be filled with so much hate against anyone who is posing no threat to you.

    The one’s who say “They are after our children!”. Thise folks are called pedophiles, not the majority of the populous, gay straight or otherwise.

    I hope this amendment is defeated and we can pay more attention to fixing the real problems of this state!

  • Alex B.

    My neighbors are two gay guys. Two great guys occupying professional positions at well known local companies. They have an adopted girl and a boy. Sex aside, can you come up with any reasonable justifications why I would deny the 4 of them legal rights and protections that we take for granted?

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