State: Backers of gay marriage ban did not properly fill out campaign donor list
PHOENIX - The backers of the successful ballot proposal to constitutionally ban gay marriage did not get the occupations of the majority of those who contributed to the campaign despite a state law requiring them to gather that information.
But the state's top election official said Monday that the wording of the law allows them to get away with that. Joe Kanefield said they do not have to give back the donations that came without the required information or even to pay a fine.
A review of the public reports filed by the Yes for Marriage campaign shows occupations listed for only about one out of five contributors. The campaign managed to collect more than $7.7 million, mostly from individuals identified only by name and address.
By contrast, Arizona Together, the committee that collected nearly $750,000 for the campaign against Proposition 102, has occupations listed for virtually all of its contributors.
That difference resulted in a formal complaint filed against the campaign by Flagstaff resident Dan Frazier, a self-described "gay rights supporter." Frazier asked the Secretary of State's Office to investigate.
Kanefield, the state elections director, said the law does require campaigns to get the information on occupations. And Kanefield said that, based on Frazier's complaint, he sent a letter to John LeSueur, treasurer of the Yes for Marriage campaign asking for an explanation.
The response came in the form of several hundred pages of affidavits saying the information had been requested from the donors.
That request actually was the acknowledgement of contribution sent to each donor.
On the bottom of each letter was a note, in small type, saying that if the contributor did not provide information about occupation, he or she "may do so" by sending an e-mail to a campaign address.
LeSueur did not return several calls seeking comment. But the committee never filed an amended report adding even a single address. Despite that, Kanefield said they are now in compliance with the law.
That law, he said, only requires a campaign to make its "best effort" to get the missing information. Kanefield said even the boilerplate language at the bottom of the acknowledgement of the donation meets that legal description.
Kanefield said his office does not normally review each of several hundred campaign finance reports it gets each year. He said the only reason he examined this one was because of Frazier's complaint.
Frazier has gained a bit of a name for himself as the producer and seller of anti-war T-shirts that have the names of more than 4,000 U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq.
The Legislature approved a measure last session aimed specifically at Frazier, making it a crime to use the names of soldiers to promote any products. But a federal judge blocked the state from enforcing that law, saying Frazier was exercising his First Amendment rights.