Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Florida Amendment 2 Update - Lawsuit Filed Over Financial Misdeeds - Arizona Next?

 MIAMI, Florida (Observer Update) - Florida Red & Blue, the bi-partisan, statewide organization running the SayNo2 campaign opposing Amendment 2, is filing a complaint with the Florida Election Commission (FEC) and seeking other inquires and penalties against – the sponsors of the so-called Marriage Protection Amendment.  

According to the complaint filed by Florida Red & Blue (FR&B) Chairman Jon Kislak, Amendment 2 sponsors Florida4Marriage are intentionally engaged in a scheme to avoid disclosing political donations, fraudulently informing voters of the sources of advertising, failing to register or file required reports and filing false or inaccurate campaign reports. 

Last week, Florida4Marriage Chairman John Stemberger announced his campaign was launching a TV ad campaign. Those ads, records show, have been paid for not by the Florida4Marraige campaign but by Florida Family Action – a separate, non-for-profit corporation. Florida Family Action, in apparent violation of state law, does not disclose its donors or expenditures.

Florida Red & Blue’s complaint demonstrates this attempt to conceal donors and improperly influence the election is intentional. A confidential September memo by Stemberger obtained by Florida Red & Blue requests support for Florida Family Action over Florida4Marriage in part because donations are “Confidential.” 

Amendment 2 sponsors are today running TV ads in Orlando and Tampa. These ads, funded with $350,000 from secret donors, also appear to illegally mislead voters by including notice that the ads are paid for by “” when they were paid for by another entity. Media outlets in these markets report ad buys from when it appears funding actually came from the secret Florida Family Action. 

Because of the ads and the attempt to shield donors from disclosure, Florida Red & Blue also today requested criminal investigations by State Attorneys in jurisdictions where legal violations may have occurred – Leon, Orange, Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties. 

Florida Red & Blue has also notified the TV stations running the ads that the ads may be illegal due to incorrectly identifying the sponsor. Florida Red & Blue has requested stations stop running these ads pending a full and complete inquiry or disclosure of the true source of the funding.  

Florida Red & Blue also called on Stemberger to take some immediate action: 

Comply with Florida law and register Florida Family Action as a political committee.

Immediately disclose all donors to Florida Family Action.  

Make Florida Family Action’s financial status known.

Remove all TV ads from the air which illegally identify the sponsor as “Florida4Marriage”

"I understand why the sponsors of Amendment 2 want to help their donors hide in the shadows," said Derek Newton, Florida Red & Blue campaign manager. "But the law in Florida is clear – you can’t do that. If people want to spend that kind of money to take away existing benefits from Floridians, voters have a right to know who’s behind it. It’s the reason we have election laws.”  

The actions taken today by Florida Red & Blue do not address the content of Florida4Marriage’s advertising – which is flatly false. The ads in question incorrectly say Amendment 2 does “one thing” when the amendment actually threatens existing right and benefits and would block the state from recognizing anything that is “treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent thereof.” 

"First the sponsors of this amendment try to mislead the public by claiming the amendment will not take away existing benefits," said Newton, "But now they have crossed the line between bending reality and breaking the law. Faced with falling support in the polls, Florida4Marriage has resorted to intentionally ignoring campaign finance laws in a desperate last ditch effort to steal the election."

For more information on Florida Red & Blue’s SayNo2 campaign, please log on to

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