Jun 17, 2010

Mormons Guilty on 13 Counts of Astroturfing

Two years after the Mormon Church poured millions into Prop 8, California Ethics Commission finds them guilty of 13 counts of campaign fraud: fines them a whopping $5538. That'll show 'em.

In an unprecedented ruling against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, found the Salt Lake City based Church guilty on 13 counts of late campaign reporting. The Mormon Church was fined $5538 in an agreement worked out ending the 19 month long investigation. The Church was the primary backer of California’s Proposition 8, which ended gay marriage in California two years ago.

The Mormon Church initially admitted to spending only $2078 to pass Prop 8. When Fred Karger, founder of Californians Against Hate, filed his sworn complaint on November 13, 2008, he said they instantly attacked him.

The Mormon owned Salt Lake City Deseret News reported on November 14, 2008 that Church spokesman Scott Trotter said the allegations are “false” and the complaint — filed by Fred Karger of Californians Against Hate — has “many errors and misstatements.” Trotter said The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints “has fully complied with the reporting requirements of the California Political Reform Act. Claims that the Church has violated the act and failed to report political expenditures made by the church are false. The church has, in fact, filed four reports with California authorities; these reports are a matter of public record. A further report will be filed on or before its due date, Jan. 30, 2009,” Trotter said.

Don Eaton a spokesman for the Mormon Church said in an interview with KGO-TV (ABC San Francisco) "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints put zero money in this.” Three months later the Mormon Church filed an amended return in which they admitted to spending $190,000. Unfortunately, this was 3 months after the election, so 17 million California voters never were able to know the full extent of the Mormon involvement until well after the election.

The Mormon Church ran phone banks, sent out direct mail, had well designed web sites, produced 27 slick commercials, bussed people in from Utah and had lots of travel expenses by high ranking Church officials. They also raised approximately $30 million from Mormon families to pass Proposition 8.

The Mormon Church also was behind the creation of the infamous National Organization for Marriage (NOM) in 2007, and was the biggest contributor to pass Prop 8.

They've been accused of and fined for what David Axlerod calls "Astroturfing." And seeing how STIFF that penalty is... they're going to be doing it again.

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