National Organization for Marriage sues again to shield donors

The National Organization for Marriage is at it again, this time suing Rhode Island’s Board of Elections for the right to run TV ads in the state’s gubernatorial race without complying with the disclosure requirements or spending limits that are currently state law:

In a lawsuit filed last week against the state, the National Organization for Marriage says it should not have to report its expenditures or comply with spending limits or bans that are required for political action committees.

The group – which held a rally against gay marriage on the State House lawn in July, sparking a counter-rally — argues it shouldn’t be considered a PAC, and says the rules for PACs are burdensome and interfere with free speech.

NOM’s tactic — flaunt an individual state’s campaign finance laws by failing to register as a PAC and to report its donors, then sue the state for interfering with free speech if its election board attempts to force the group to comply — is pretty standard fare by now. The group is engaged in similar lawsuits in California and Maine, and it’s currently refusing to register as PAC despite its political activity in the state of Minnesota as well.

Most independent observers predict NOM’s challenges will eventually fail — the group has already lost a similar case in the Supreme Court regarding disclosure of its political activity in the state of Washington — but the group’s plan, for now, seems to be to delay as long as possible. It’s got deep enough pockets to fight these cases in the courts for months — or even years — allowing its political spending in state races, meanwhile, to go undisclosed until long after the elections in question have been decided.

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