Friday, October 29, 2010
The LA Times picked up an AP story about a federal judge in New York who rejected a challenge to state election law brought by a group that opposes gay marriage and supports the Republican candidate for governor, Carl Paladino, who has made plain his feelings about gay rights.
The group, the National Organization for Marriage, planned to run television ads mocking gay rights and explicitly supporting Paladino. It sought what was in essence a declaratory judgment from the court stating that the group would not be required under New York law to list their donors. Although the article did not specify, I assume NOM is a 501(c)(4), which ordinarily would not be required to reveal its donors, but which would be forced to do so under New York law if New York's Board of Elections were to rule that NOM was a political committee. The group's legal theory was that being branded as a political committee and thus having to reveal its donors would "interfere with NOM's free speech rights by imposing so many burdens that it wouldn't be worth it to NOM to run the ads." That argument sounds like a loser on the merits, but the judge never got there, dismissing the suit as not ripe since the New York Board of Elections had not yet acted.
I leave it to Lloyd to educate us about how this story fits into the larger story of the use and abuse of nonprofit organizations in the political sphere.