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Archive for the ‘proposition 8 donors’ Category

Should political donors be disclosed? I certainly believe so, but since there are some that have faced pressure for their contributions to pro-8 groups, these two individuals below feel that they should not face actions for supporting the removal of rights. I love that some people just cannot understand the need for people to take responsibility for their actions. What a load of crap from the Wall Street Journal:

Donor Disclosures Has Its Downsides

Supporters of California’s Prop.8 have faced a backlash.

By John R. Lott Jr. and Bradley Smith

How would you like elections without secret ballots? To most people, this would be absurd.

We have secret balloting for obvious reasons. Politics frequently generates hot tempers. People can put up yard signs or wear political buttons if they want. But not everyone feels comfortable making his or her positions public — many worry that their choice might offend or anger someone else. They fear losing their jobs or facing boycotts of their businesses.

And yet the mandatory public disclosure of financial donations to political campaigns in almost every state and at the federal level renders people’s fears and vulnerability all too real. Proposition 8 — California’s recently passed constitutional amendment to outlaw gay marriage by ensuring that marriage in that state remains between a man and a woman — is a dramatic case in point. Its passage has generated retaliation against those who supported it, once their financial support was made public and put online.

For example, when it was discovered that Scott Eckern, director of the nonprofit California Musical Theater in Sacramento, had given $1,000 to Yes on 8, the theater was deluged with criticism from prominent artists. Mr. Eckern was forced to resign.

Richard Raddon, the director of the L.A. Film Festival, donated $1,500 to Yes on 8. A threatened boycott and picketing of the next festival forced him to resign. Alan Stock, the chief executive of the Cinemark theater chain, gave $9,999. Cinemark is facing a boycott, and so is the gay-friendly Sundance Film Festival because it uses a Cinemark theater to screen some of its films.

A Palo Alto dentist lost patients as a result of his $1,000 donation. A restaurant manager in Los Angeles gave a $100 personal donation, triggering a demonstration and boycott against her restaurant. The pressure was so intense that Marjorie Christoffersen, who had managed the place for 26 years, resigned.

These are just a few instances that have come to light, and the ramifications are still occurring over a month after the election. The larger point of this spectacle is its implications for the future: to intimidate people who donate to controversial campaigns.

The question is not whether Prop. 8 should have passed, but whether its supporters (or opponents) should have their political preferences protected in the same way that voters are protected. Is there any reason to think that the repercussions Mr. Eckern faced for donating to Prop. 8 would be different if it were revealed that instead of donating, he had voted for it?

Indeed, supporters of Prop. 8 engaged in pressure tactics. At least one businessman who donated to “No on 8,” Jim Abbott of Abbott & Associates, a real estate firm in San Diego, received a letter from the Prop. 8 Executive Committee threatening to publish his company’s name if he didn’t also donate to the “Yes on 8” campaign.

In each case, the law required disclosure of these individuals’ financial support for Prop. 8. Supposedly, the reason for requiring disclosure of campaign contributions is to allow voters to police politicians who might otherwise become beholden to financiers by letting voters know “who is behind the message.” But in a referendum vote such as Prop. 8, there are no office holders to be beholden to big donors.

Does anyone believe that in campaigns costing millions of dollars a donation of $100, or even $1,000 or $10,000 will give the donor “undue” influence? Over whom? Meanwhile, voters learn little by knowing the names and personal information of thousands of small contributors.

Besides, it is not the case that voters would have no recourse when it comes to the financial backers of politicians or initiatives. Even without mandatory disclosure rules, the unwillingness to release donation information can itself become a campaign issue. If voters want to know who donated, there will be pressure to disclose that information. Possibly voters will be most concerned about who the donors are when regulatory issues are being debated. But that is for them to decide. They can always vote “no.”

Ironically, it has long been minorities who have benefited the most from anonymous speech. In the 1950s, for example, Southern states sought to obtain membership lists of the NAACP in the name of the public’s “right to know.” Such disclosure would have destroyed the NAACP’s financial base in the South and opened its supporters to threats and violence. It took a Supreme Court ruling in NAACP v. Alabama (1958) to protect the privacy of the NAACP and its supporters on First Amendment grounds. And more recently, it has usually been supporters of gay rights who have preferred to keep their support quiet.

There is another problem with publicizing donations in political elections: It tends to entrench powerful politicians whom donors fear alienating. If business executives give money to a committee chairman’s opponent, they often fear retribution.

Other threats are more personal. For example, in 2004 Gigi Brienza contributed $500 to the John Edwards presidential campaign. An extremist animal rights group used that information to list Ms. Brienza’s home address (and similarly, that of dozens of co-workers) on a Web site, under the ominous heading, “Now you know where to find them.” Her “offense,” also revealed from the campaign finance records, was that she worked for a pharmaceutical company that tested its products on animals.

In the aftermath of Prop. 8 we can glimpse a very ugly future. As anyone who has had their political yard signs torn down can imagine, with today’s easy access to donor information on the Internet, any crank or unhinged individual can obtain information on his political opponents, including work and home addresses, all but instantaneously. When even donations as small as $100 trigger demonstrations, it is hard to know how one will feel safe in supporting causes one believes in.

Mr. Lott, a senior research scientist at the University of Maryland, is the author of “Freedomnomics” (Regnery, 2007). Mr. Smith, a former Federal Election Commission commissioner, is chairman of the Center for Competitive Politics and professor of law at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio.

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US-BUSH-KNIGHTS-COLUMBUS

In a press release, spokesman for the Knights of Columbus, Patrick Korten said that the donation from the Knights “is both an indication of how important we believe this referendum to be, and an encouragement to other groups and individuals of all faiths to lend their support as well.”

“From the day the organization was founded 126 years ago, strengthening and protecting the family has always been central to the mission of the Knights of Columbus. Preserving marriage as the indispensable institution in which children are conceived, born and raised to adulthood by a loving father and mother is vital to a healthy society. It is also the most favorable environment in which to protect the rights and best interests of children. We are proud to join the Catholic bishops and priests of California, and so many other people of good will, in this effort on which so much depends.”

The Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal organization, may be best known as the group that collects glasses for needy people outside of stores. That gives me the opportunity to run into members a few times per year outside of stores. The next time I see a member outside of a store I’ll let him know how I feel about his organization giving $1,000,000 to take away the rights of my California brothers and sisters. I’ll also let the store manager know what I think.

Don’t email me telling me what a great job they do as a charitable organization. There’s been many groups and individuals over the years seen as ‘good’ only to later disappoint. In this case, the bad far outweighs the good. Their press release above is ignorant and Catholics around the world should be ashamed.

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