SAN FRANCISCO, California (Observer Update) - Six weeks into an investigation by California’s Fair Political Practices Commission, the Church of Latter-Day Saints has admitted that it spent nearly $188,000 more on the campaign to approve Proposition 8 that it had initially stated, 365Gay.com reported.
The Mormon Church previously insisted that it spent only $2,078 to support the ban on same-sex marriage, something LGBT leaders said was implausible in light of a number of visits to California by high ranking church officials, ads allegedly produced with church funds and the large number of church staffers working on the campaign. In November, Californians Against Hate filed a complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission accusing the church of failing to report the value of work it did to support Prop 8. An investigation began in late November.
In a new filing with the state, the church now admits that among other expenses were $96,849 for “compensated staff time” for church employees who worked on the campaign, $20,575 for the use of facilities and equipment at its Salt Lake City headquarters, $26,000 for audio-visual production and travel expenses for church leaders to go to California. “This is exactly what we were talking about when we filed the suit,” Fred Karger of Californians Against Hate told the San Francisco Chronicle.
The Church put an estimated $25 million into the battle to end Gay marriage in California. If the Commission finds the Church broke state election laws it could be fined up to $5,000 per violation. The Commission also could file an additional civil lawsuit. There have been protests at Mormon churches in California and Utah. In Utah, a number of churches were vandalized and hoax mailings containing a white powder were sent to Church leaders in Salt Lake City. No group has claimed responsibility, but some LDS officials have accused Gays.
Later this year, the California Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a case seeking to nullify Proposition 8, which overruled the court’s decision in May legalizing Gay marriage. In a separate case, a federal judge has denied a request by supporters of Prop 8 to keep secret the names of donors. The group behind the measure said public disclosure of their financial supporters put the donors at risk of personal harassment or boycotts to their businesses. In denying the motion, the judge said the public had a right to know who gave money to state ballot measures.
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