Californians Against Hate Files Official Complaint

I do not endorse this complaint (I found at least one factual error — the “one trip” item — as I noted, the LDS Church later filed another in-kind contribution report for a second trip.) Still, it makes an interesting case, has useful links, and identifies significant LDS activity.


November 13, 2008

Chairman Ross Johnson
Fair Political Practices Commission
428 J Street, Suite 800
Sacramento, CA 95814

Attorney General Edmund G. Brown, Jr.
California Department of Justice
P.O. Box 944255
Sacramento, CA 94244-2550

Attorney General Mark Shurtleff
Office of the Attorney General
Utah State Capitol Complex
350 North State Street Suite 230
SLC UT 84114-2320

Dear Chairman Johnson, Generals Brown & Shurtleff:

Today we filed a formal complaint with the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) aka the Mormon Church of Salt Lake City, Utah for not reporting various non monetary contributions to ProtectMarriage.com – Yes on 8, A Project of California Renewal I.D. # 1302592. The Mormon Church has been highly secretive about its massive involvement in the campaign, but we managed to piece together evidence of some of their more visible activities done directly to communicate with California voters, including:

Church organized phone banks from Utah and Idaho
Sending direct mail to voters
Transported people to California over several weekends
Used the LDS Press Office to send out multiple News Releases to promote their activities to nonmembers
Walked precincts
Ran a speakers bureau
Distributed thousands of lawn signs and other campaign material
Organized a “surge to election day”
Church leaders travel to California
Set up of very elaborate web sites
Produced at least 9 commercials and 4 other video broadcasts all in support of Prop 8
Conducted at least 2 satellite simulcasts over 5 Western states.

All of these unreported contributions by the Mormon Church were on top of its massive fund-raising effort; the largest ever undertaken on a social issue ballot initiative.

Under California Election Law organizations such as the Mormon Church are not required to report activities if they strictly constitute “member communication.” We will explain why we feel that the activities of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints went far beyond “member communication,” and were instead specifically targeted at California’s 17 million voters. By not reporting any of these non monetary contributions, the Mormon Church violated the Political Reform Act.

The only mention of compliance was a news story stating that the Mormon Church reported a single non monetary contribution of $2078.00 for Church Elder L. Whitney Clayton’s travel expenses for one trip to California. Was there only one trip? Were no other Church officials traveling to California for such an important campaign?

The Mormon Church made the Yes on Prop 8 campaign a national priority beginning on June 20, 2008 when Church President David S. Monson sent his now famous letter to be read in every church building, where he said, “We ask that you do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment (Prop 8 ) by donating of your means and time to assure that marriage in California is legally defined as being between a man and a woman.” http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/commentary/california-and-same-sex-marriage This was their call to action, and was undoubtedly designed to get members to begin the outreach to nonmembers.

Two other organizations that were also involved in the Yes on Prop 8 campaign, reported substantial non monetary contributions. The National Organization for Marriage of Princeton, New Jersey reported 49 separate non monetary contributions between 02/01/08 and 4/16/08 totaling $210,634,75. James Dobson’s Focus on the Family of Colorado Springs, Colorado reported non monetary contributions between 12/7/07 and 10/15/08 of $83,790.00.

Phone Banks

On October 8, 2008 the Associated Press reported that “Mormons Recruit Out-of-State for Gay Marriage Ban. Mormons living outside California have been asked to volunteer for a telephone campaign to help pass a ballot initiative banning same-sex marriage in the state.”

The Mormon Church announced one week before the November 4, 2008 election that it was canceling its phone centers in Utah established to call California voters. Were these in operation before they were canceled? What were the costs of these phone centers? How many calls were made to California voters from these massive call centers?

News reports said that students at BYU – Idaho in Rexford, Idaho were using a call center in that town every Thursday evening to call voters in California. This type of interstate phone network requires a lot of setup, supervision, voter sheets, scripts, training and the price of the calls. Call centers are used to communicate with nonmembers. Phone centers in place to contact nonmembers would constitute a contribution. No contribution was reported.

Gary Lawrence – State LDS Grassroots Director

Veteran political operative Gary Lawrence http://www.zoominfo.com/Search/CompanyDetail.aspx?CompanyID=55969576&cs=QHDVgcoxQ was based in Orange County, California. His title was State LDS Grassroots Director. Lawrence’s mission was to direct all Mormon activities in California (attached). He had a web site set up expressly for this purpose: http://yesonprop8.blogspot.com/2008/08/gary-lawrence-grass-roots-coordinator.html

Gary Lawrence’s operation had a timeline beginning on August 16, 2008 though election day of 12 Saturday precinct walks. All walkers were to be Mormons leading up to the election day surge of 100,000 Mormon volunteers and they went door-to-door to canvass nonmember voters. Was the Church actively involved in this massive recruitment? Here is a copy of the Mormon Organizational memo: http://wikileaks.org/leak/lds-proposition8-notes-2008.pdf

This directive from Church Elders Ballard, Christopheron & Clayton detail Church plans for yard signs, schedule, volunteers, out of state calling teams, speakers bureau and voter registration. More internet communications are available on this site: http://www.p8california.com/Job.html Did the Church participate financially in this massive voter outreach? If so, all of these voter communication activities to nonmembers constitute a contribution. No contribution was reported.

Saturday Rallies

These took place throughout California on the 3 Saturdays prior to the election. Thousands of yellow T-shirt clad Yes on 8 supporters were lined up for miles with signs in targeted areas of the state yelling, chanting and screaming at passing motorists. There were reports that these demonstrators were mostly Mormons, and that many were bussed in from Utah and surrounding states. We have heard that some of the busses had out of state license plates. Who paid for the buses, travel costs, meals and other expenses of all the Mormon participants? No contributions were reported.

Satellite Broadcasts

It appears that the first satellite simulcast was on October 8, 2008 and was beamed to 5 Western states. Apostle Robert D. Hales led this broadcast on various aspects of the campaign, including how to deal with the issues and how to conduct yourself. http://www.meridianmagazine.com/churchupdate/081010prop8.html
Another satellite broadcast took place at a later date, and was led by Church Elders M. Russell Ballard, Quentin L. Cook and L. Whitney Clayton. It addressed the Church’s doctrine of marriage and participation in the Protect Marriage Coalition. Then the Newsroom of the Mormon Church issued a Press Release (attached) about this broadcast making it available to California voters and anyone with internet access. This video was not password protected and was promoted by the Church and available to nonmembers. Here is the press release about it as well as other Mormon activities: http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/commentary/same-sex-marriage-and-proposition-8 Satellite broadcasts to hundreds of locations are very expensive, and by making it available to nonmembers, it is a contribution. No contribution was reported.

Multimedia Program

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints appeared to have done a tremendous amount of work in this area. A very slick web site (attached) http://www.preservingmarriage.org/ was developed specifically for the Yes on Prop 8 campaign. The title is “Preserving the Divine Institution of Marriage.” This web site states that it is “An Official Web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” c 2008 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

PreservingMarriage.com is primarily a showcase for 9 separate Yes on Prop 8 commercials that are very professionally produced. They feature mostly young people talking about why same-sex marriage is wrong. There is an email update request box, and another to send feedback. The viewer is encouraged to share this site and “spread the word.” Site visits are not limited to just Mormons, and everyone is “invited to share these videos with others.” There is even a very prominent “Vote Yes on Prop 8, Support Traditional Marriage” banner on the home page. Certainly this web site was put in place to reach California voters. It is on the internet, and therefore available to all.

This web page on PreservingMarriage.com has 13 very professionally made commercials and videos: http://www.preservingmarriage.org/videos.html .

All of these commercials as well as their web site were clearly designed to communicate with the public. No contribution was reported.

Church Denial

On November 9, 2008 Don Eaton a spokesman for the Mormon Church was quoted on ABC – KGO Television stating, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints put zero money in this (election).” When I personally spoke with him Monday, November 10, 2008 and asked him if the PreservingMarriage.com web site was sponsored by the Church, he quickly said that it was not, but was “a part of the campaign.”

In 1998, the Mormon Church directly contributed $1.1 million to ban same-sex marriages in Alaska and Hawaii, and received widespread criticism for that. So this year in California it appears that the Mormon Church was trying to avoid any direct contributions to Yes on Prop 8, and instead raised millions from its member families. That is legal, but all the money spent to communicate with nonmembers must be reported if it exceed $100. Clearly the Mormon Church has vastly exceeded that threshold.

We ask that the Fair Political Practices Commission and the Attorneys General of California and Utah immediately begin a full and thorough investigation of all campaign related activities undertaken by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City, Utah to determine if there were any reporting violations.

Thank you very much for your prompt attention to this very important matter.

Sincerely,

Fred Karger
Founder / Campaign Manager
Californians Against Hate

http://californiansagainsthate.com/

619-592-2008

21 Responses to Californians Against Hate Files Official Complaint

  1. Bot says:

    The anti-Prop 8, pro gay marriage groups ran ads charging this whole idea that public schools will teach gay marriage is just a “lie.”

    The same groups now charging it’s a lie (public schools will teach about gay marriage whether parents like it or not) — were just in court in Massachusetts filing amicus briefs arguing parents don’t have any right to opt their children out of the pro-gay marriage curriculum.

    From the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Amicus Curiae Brief:
    “In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, where the right of same-sex couples to marry is protected under the state constitution, it is particularly important to teach children about families with gay parents.” [p 5]

    From the Human Rights Campaign Amicus Curiae Brief:
    “There is no constitutional principle grounded in either the First Amendment’s free exercise clause or the right to direct the upbringing of one’s children, which requires defendants to either remove the books now in issue – or to treat them as suspect by imposing an opt-out system.” [pp1-2]

    From the ACLU Amicus Curiae Brief:
    “Specifically, the parents in this case do not have a constitutional right to override the professional pedagogical judgment of the school with respect to the inclusion within the curriculum of the age-appropriate children’s book…King and King.” [p 9]

    Which side is really telling the truth here about its aims?

  2. Bot says:

    Don’t you see you are just fueling the fears religionists have of the “No on 8″ movement. You want to take away their tax-exempt status, just as New Jersey did to the Methodist Church in Ocean Grove, New Jersey. No wonder they oppose the efforts of the “No on 8″ folks.

  3. lds501c3 says:

    The issue with the Methodist Church was that they wanted to discriminate against people who wanted to use land that they had already agreed would be open to the public as part of a deal with the government. No one was forcing them to solemnize same-sex marriages in or as part of their church.

    You’re advancing the existence of a “pro-gay” marriage curriculum that doesn’t exist. The case in Massachusetts involves the great-grandchildren of Joseph B. Wirthlin, a member of the LDS Quorum of the Twelve, and some have even alleged that Robb and Robin Wirthlin moved to Lexington MA in order to obtain jurisdiction for this suit. The book “King and King” was read AT THE STUDENTS’ REQUEST, as a decision of the individual teacher, and not part of any official curriculum. You can read an impartial account of the entire story of the lawsuit including everyone’s statements here: http://www.lexingtoncares.org/lawsuit2006-04-27.html .

    Finally, even if children learn that people in a state accept same-sex marriage, what is wrong with that? Haven’t religious parents had to teach their children that their beliefs are different for centuries? Why should the state abridge the rights of a minority simply so that another minority can rely on the state to teach their children the morals of a particular group? That’s a parent’s job, and I have a long post on that here.

  4. mikey9a says:

    Fred,

    Your accusations are so circumstantial and factless that it staggers the mind that you were even able to get a hearing. You know as well as I do that this will not go your way. The Chruch has lawyers that were well aware of what they church could or could not do.

    Californians against hate…

    You see right there. You don’t want to create dialogue, you want to create divisiveness. Most people when they voted for Prop 8 thought nothing of Gays, but of their own beliefs. It’s so funny that you have to equate association with this proposition with hate. It’s not hate it is faith in something personal.

    But it is the number one rule in communications and politics to control the message, which would mean that you have to associate the loving and giving Mormon people with hate instead of faith in Marriage and what it means to them.

  5. Joe Palner says:

    Fred,
    I find much irony in your claims and your organization. Your organization “California Against Hate” aren’t you being a LITTLE hypocritical. Maybe a lot hypocritical.

    You are projecting hate against the Mormons. Whether you want to admit it or are willing to even accept it, you are. You singled out the Mormon church, while many churches did the exact same thing. But your focus is solely on the Mormons. My church (non-Mormon) expressed it’s opinion.

    WE (all religious groups) are practicing our constitutional rights – FREE SPEACH, and FREEDOM OF RELIGION. We are not forcing our views on you. We are doing our DUTY as Americans and voting. Your platform lost and now you are crying foul. Lick your wounds and get over it. You don’t see John McCain crying “Obama won, no fair, I’m going to sue. Boo Hoo”

    You want equality. You want fair legislation. You want freedom of choice. BUT ONLY WHEN IT’S IN YOUR FAVOR.

    That dear sir is the very definition of Hypocrisy.

    Further, How audacious of you to name your organization CALIFORNIANS Against Hate. What makes you think you have to right to say Californians? I don’t recall you asking me to be part of your organization. Don’t group me in. I am not for hate. I have many friends that fall into many minority groups. I love then all and value their heritage for impacts it’s had on my life. I have colleagues, both male and female who are gay. I treat them with all the respect they deserve. As a Christian I believe they are sinning. However, as a Christian I also believe in the fact that GOD gave us Free Will… the right to choose. So I respect that God given right of theirs, to choose. So don’t include me a part of your group. I’m a Californian, I’m not for hate, but I’m not for your agenda either.

    Funny thing I just thought of, everyone of the gay rights groups that wants the total separation of church and state, should realize that the majority of the constitutional right they use as leverage to remove the church, were provided by GOD… Like the right to choose aka Free Will. Ironic isn’t it. It is not your constitutional right, it’s your GOD given right. Our constitution was formed by Christians, based on the Bibles teachings. I hate to tell you that, but it’s true. That’s why there are so many references to GOD… look on a dollar bill, the Pledge of Allegiance, the Preamble to the Constitution…

    I think you are wasting your energy fighting this. If you don’t like the outcome of Prop 8, be a good citizen, petition it, get it back on the ballot, and re-vote. If the citizens then choose to re-change the law and make gay marriage legal, then you’ve done your job. But right now, going after the Mormon church isn’t going to change the law, gay marriage will still continue to be a non-recognized union.

  6. JR says:

    Fred is it?

    Your sloppy accusations and insinuations are laughable at best. Do you truly believe your’re helping out your cause by singling out and slandering a minority religion with your half baked innuendo? I believe your hate is showing. What was your organization again?

    Even if every Mormon in California stayed home and didn’t vote on election day prop 8 still would have passed. “Oh but it was all those pre taxed dollars from legitimate Mormon citizens acting out of their own free will and exercising their legal right to contribute to the cause of their choice that turned the tide!” Please. Opposition to 8 had more commercials and received more funding in and out of state money than the yes campaign in every category. If money was the culprit why didn’t the no campaign win?

    Guess what, opposition to 8 received contributions from quite a few liberal churches for gay marriage! uh oh better expand your little letter there. Are you going to go after them too? Or are you okay with your blatantly prejudice letter against Mormons. hmm? Don’t you want to include the Catholics too? The Jews perhaps? Muslims? Evangelicals? No? just Mormons? That’s probably best, it shows your true colors more prominently.

    But hey if you want some hard evidence against the church you should go to that *”Rexford” Idaho place you were talking about, and talk to that **President “David” S. Monson. You may find a clue there because you obviously don’t have one now. You can’t even get basic, readily available information right yet you expect people to believe your ill researched slanted tripe? Unless they’re driven by the same vengeful spite you and your organization represent, I don’t believe the IRS will be receiving many of your “love” letters. Even if they do the church is more than capable of proving itself to the IRS.

    Good luck with your hate stopping campaign, hope you get passed phase one, STOP HATING.

    *Rexford Idaho, doesn’t exist. Only in Fred’s mind.
    ** David S. Monson, obscure utah congressman from the 80s, not the president of the Church

  7. Benjamin says:

    Well I can tell that these posts against Fred are the “half baked” arguments. To say that Mormons just went to the polls to support their beliefs is more than a little naive. The statement next to the issue of prop 8 Yes or No stated very clearly that gay and lesbian people would have the rights of marriage equality voided. If that is not bigotry I don’t know what is and then to take the Mormon victim role (a role that has worked for a lot of religions) is typically of a bully. The LDS Church is no longer the “minority” religion it once was people. It is a huge and powerful organization with vast resources and has the power to influence elections like they did with prop 8. To say that prop 8 would have passed even if the LDS Church had not been involved is in all reality a bunch of horse crap.

  8. Ted says:

    California Against Hate has received a reply to their official complaint. Here is the Press Release they distributed about it:

    California Fair Political Practices Commission to
    Investigate Mormon Church Involvement in Prop 8

    LOS ANGELES, CA – Fred Karger, Founder of Californians Against Hate received a letter today from the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) regarding the sworn complaint that he filed on November 13, 2008. The complaint requested the FPPC investigate the alleged lack of reporting of numerous non monetary contributions to ProtectMarriage.com / Yes on 8, A Project of California Renewal I.D. #1302592 by the Mormon Church. The letter from FPPC Executive Director, Roman Porter, dated November 21, 2008 was received by fax. Below is the text of the letter from Mr. Porter.

    Fair Political Practices Commission
    428 J Street, Suite 629, Sacramento, CA 95814-2329
    (916)322-5660 Fax (916)322-0886

    November 21, 2008

    Fred Karger
    1278 Glenneyre, #20
    Laguna Beach, CA 92651

    Re; FPPC File No. 08/735; Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints aka the Mormon Church of Salt Lake City, Utah

    Dear Mr. Karger:

    This letter is to notify you that the Enforcement Division of the Fair Political Practices Commission (the FPPC) will investigate the allegation(s), under the jurisdiction of the FPPC, of the sworn complaint you submitted in the above-referenced matter. You will next receive notification from us upon final disposition of the case. However, please be advised that at this time we have not made any determination about the validity of the allegation(s) you made or about the culpability, if any, of the person(s) you identify in your complaint.
    Thank you for taking the time to bring this matter to our attention.

    Sincerely,

    Roman G. Porter
    Executive Director

    cc: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints aka the Mormon Church of Salt Lake City, Utah

    “We are very pleased that the FPPC has agreed to launch an investigation based on our complaint,” said Fred Karger. “My 4 page letter to Chairman Ross Johnson and California and Utah Attorneys General Edmund G. Brown, Jr. and Mark Shurtleff with all of the alleged unreported activities is available on our blog at: http://californiansagainsthate.blogspot.com/ We’re hopeful the Mormon Church will fully cooperate with the investigation, and that we will find out the full extent of their involvement in the Yes on 8 campaign.”

    — end –

  9. Ted says:

    Californians Against Hate received a reply from the state saying that the state would be investigating the role of the LDS Church with respect to Prop 8.

    The New York Times published an editorial agreeing that the LDS Church was involving itself in politics.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/29/opinion/29sat2.html?_r=2&th&emc=th

  10. Great looking website, I Enjoyed my stay on your website. and really wish you all the best. GOOD LUCK!!!

  11. Reebes says:

    Your facts are all wrong and you say President of the LDS churches name is David get your facts right thats not his name it makes me wonder how much of your other “facts” are bull but I’m not going to waste my time reading this ignorant crap.

  12. David says:

    The catch with the IRS code is that it only mentions the term “substantial.” Yet, the basis of your conclusion does not include the definition of “substantial.” The LDS church has vast holdings throughout the world. I would seriously doubt that the LDS church contributed even 1% of its total gross earnings to the Proposition 8 issue in California or elsewhere. I would also seriously doubt that 1% would be considered “substantial,” by definition.

    You may also find it interesting that one of the apostles of the LDS church is a former Utah State Supreme Court Justice (Dallin Oaks). I am fairly certain that he understands and knows how to interpret the law. You may also find it interesting that President Obama has at least two LDS members as appointees: Governor Jon Huntsman (US Ambassador to China) and Larry Echohawk (Head of Bureau of Indian Affairs). Of course, there is also Senator Harry Reid (Senate Majority Leader) who is also a member of the LDS church along with other members of Congress.

    This would seem like a hate issue against the Mormon church since the alligations you are making are inconsistent with the name of your organization. Is your charitable organization now investing a “substantial” part of its resources into politically rebutting the LDS church. Talk about a conflict of major proportions.

  13. LDS Music says:

    So, is this group going to go up against all of the churches, conservative AND liberal, who have lobbied state and federal legislative bodies for YEARS?

    Or is the Mormon Church just the target du jour?

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