← Back to Prince’s Research Excerpts: Gay Rights & Mormonism Index

Prince Research Excerpts on Gay Rights & Mormonism – “19b – CFPPC Complaint”

Below you will find Prince’s research excerpts titled, “19b – CFPPC Complaint.” You can view other topics here.

Search the content below for specific dates, names, and keywords using the keyboard shortcut Command + F on a Mac or Control + F on Windows.

19b – CFPPC Complaint


“Fred Karger, Founder of Californians Against Hate, today filed a Sworn Complaint with the Enforcement Division of the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). In the complaint he accused The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) of not reporting numerous non monetary contributions to ProtectMarriage.com – Yes on 8, A Project of California Renewal I.D. # 1302592.

Karger contends that The Mormon Church organized phone banks from Utah and Idaho, sent direct mail to voters, transported people to California over several weekends, used the LDS NewsRoom to send out News Releases to promote their activities, walked precincts, ran a speakers bureau, distributed thousands of lawn signs and other campaign material, organized a ‘surge to election day,’ had Church leaders travel to California, set up very elaborate web sites, produced at least 9 commercials and 4 other video broadcasts and conducted at least 2 satellite simulcasts over 5 Western states. All of these actions were geared toward nonmembers.…

In the letter, a copy of which is below, Karger stated that 2 other organizations that were also involved in the Yes on Prop 8 campaign, reported substantial non monetary contributions to ProtectMarriage.com. The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) of Princeton, New Jersey reported $210,634,75 and James Dobson’s Focus on the Family of Colorado Springs, Colorado reported $83,790.00. No non monetary contributions could be found from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.…

Dear Chairman Johnson, Generals Brown & Shurtleff:

Today we filed a formal complaint with the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) aka the Mormon Church of Salt Lake City, Utah for not reporting various non monetary contributions to ProtectMarriage.com Yes on 8, A Project of California Renewal I.D. # 1302592. The Mormon Church has been highly secretive about its massive involvement in the campaign, but we managed to piece together evidence of some of their more visible activities done directly to communicate with California voters, including:

· Church organized phone banks from Utah and Idaho

· Sending direct mail to voters

· Transported people to California over several weekends

· Used the LDS Press Office to send out multiple News Releases to promote their activities to nonmembers

· Walked precincts

· Ran a speakers bureau

· Distributed thousands of lawn signs and other campaign material

· Organized a ‘surge to election day’

· Church leaders travel to California

· Set up of very elaborate web sites

· Produced at least 9 commercials and 4 other video broadcasts all in support of Prop 8

· Conducted at least 2 satellite simulcasts over 5 Western states.

All of these unreported contributions by the Mormon Church were on top of its massive fund-raising effort; the largest ever undertaken on a social issue ballot initiative.…

By not reporting any of these non monetary contributions, the Mormon Church violated the Political Reform Act.

The only mention of compliance was a news story stating that the Mormon Church reported a single non monetary contribution of $2078.00 for Church Elder L. Whitney Clayton’s travel expenses for one trip to California.…

On October 8, 2008 the Associated Press reported that Mormons Recruit Out-of-State for Gay Marriage Ban. Mormons living outside California have been asked to volunteer for a telephone campaign to help pass a ballot initiative banning same-sex marriage in the state.”

The Mormon Church announced one week before the November 4, 2008 election that it was canceling its phone centers in Utah established to call California voters. Were these in operation before they were canceled? What were the costs of these phone centers? How many calls were made to California voters from these massive call centers?

News reports said that students at BYU-Idaho in Rexburg, Idaho were using a call center in that town every Thursday evening to call voters in California.…

Gary Lawrence’s operation had a timeline beginning on August 16, 2008 though election day of 12 Saturday precinct walks. All walkers were to be Mormons leading up to the election day surge of 100,000 Mormon volunteers and they went door-to-door to canvass nonmember voters. Was the Church actively involved in this massive recruitment? Here is a copy of the Mormon Organizational memo: http://wikileaks.org/leak/lds-proposition8-notes-2008.pdf This directive from Church Elders Ballard, Christopheron & Clayton detail Church plans for yard signs, schedule, volunteers, out of state calling teams, speakers bureau and voter registration. More internet communications are available on this site: http://www.p8california.com/Job.html Did the Church participate financially in this massive voter outreach? If so, all of these voter communication activities to nonmembers constitute a contribution. No contribution was reported.

Saturday Rallies

These took place throughout California on the 3 Saturdays prior to the election. Thousands of yellow T-shirt clad Yes on 8 supporters were lined up for miles with signs in targeted areas of the state yelling, chanting and screaming at passing motorists. There were reports that these demonstrators were mostly Mormons, and that many were bussed in from Utah and surrounding states. We have heard that some of the busses had out of state license plates. Who paid for the buses, travel costs, meals and other expenses of all the Mormon participants? No contributions were reported.

Satellite Broadcasts

It appears that the first satellite simulcast was on October 8, 2008 and was beamed to 5 Western states.…

Another satellite broadcast took place at a later date, and was led by Church Elders M. Russell Ballard, Quentin L. Cook and L. Whitney Clayton.… Satellite broadcasts to hundreds of locations are very expensive, and by making it available to nonmembers, it is a contribution. No contribution was reported.

Multi-media Program

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints appeared to have done a tremendous amount of work in this area. A very slick web site (attached) http://www.preservingmarriage.org/ was developed specifically for the Yes on Prop 8 campaign. The title is Preserving the Divine Institution of Marriage. This web site states that it is ‘An Official Web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints c 2008 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.’

PreservingMarriage.com is primarily a showcase for 9 separate Yes on Prop 8 commercials that are very professionally produced. They feature mostly young people talking about why same-sex marriage is wrong. There is an email update request box, and another to send feedback. The viewer is encouraged to share this site and spread the word. Site visits are not limited to just Mormons, and everyone is invited to share these videos with others. There is even a very prominent Vote Yes on Prop 8, Support Traditional Marriage banner on the home page. Certainly this web site was put in place to reach California voters. It is on the internet, and therefore available to all.

This web page on PreservingMarriage.com has 13 very professionally made commercials and videos: http://www.preservingmarriage.org/videos.html (attached).
All of these commercials as well as their web site were clearly designed to communicate with the public. No contribution was reported.

Church Denial

On November 9, 2008 Don Eaton a spokesman for the Mormon Church was quoted on ABC KGO Television stating, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints put zero money in this (election). When I personally spoke with him Monday, November 10, 2008 and asked him if the PreservingMarriage.com web site was sponsored by the Church, he quickly said that it was not, but was a part of the campaign.”

In 1998, the Mormon Church directly contributed $1.1 million to ban same-sex marriages in Alaska and Hawaii, and received widespread criticism for that. So this year in California it appears that the Mormon Church was trying to avoid any direct contributions to Yes on Prop 8, and instead raised millions from its member families. That is legal, but all the money spent to communicate with nonmembers must be reported if it exceed $100.” (Fred Karger, “Sworn Complaint Filed Against Mormon Church with California FPPC and 2 State Attorneys General,” www.rightsequalrights.com, November 13, 2008)


“Californians Against Hate … filed a complaint with California’s Fair Political Practices Commission…

LDS Church spokesman Scott Trotter issued a strong response this afternoon, saying the church ‘fully complied with the reporting requirements of the California Political Reform Act,’ relied on advice from experienced California counsel and made no violations when it came to reporting expenditures.…

‘Any investigation would confirm the Church’s full compliance with applicable law.’” (Jessica Ravitz, “Complaint: LDS Church underreported Prop 8 role,” Salt Lake Tribune, November 13, 2008)


“[Scott] Trotter said The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ‘has fully complied with the reporting requirements of the California Political Reform Act…

‘Claims that the church has violated the act and failed to report political expenditures made by the church are false. The church ahs, in fact, filed four reports with California authorities; these reports are a matter of public record. A further report will be filed on or before its due date, Jan. 30, 2009,’ Trotter said.…” (Carrie A. Moore and Jared Page, “Prop 8 foes file complaint against LDS,” Deseret News, November 14, 2008)


“California’s Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) confirmed Monday that it will investigate allegations that the LDS Church failed to report nonmonetary contributions to the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign.…

Karger, a retired political consultant, alleged in his complaint that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints failed to report money invested to organize phone banks, send out direct mailers, provide transportation to California, mobilize a speakers bureau, send out satellite simulcasts and develop Web sites as well as numerous commercials and video broadcasts.…

The LDS Church did not comment on Monday’s latest development but said earlier that Karger’s complaint had ‘many errors and misstatements,’ that the church had ‘fully complied with the reporting requirements of the California Political Reform Act’ and that ‘any investigation would confirm the church’s full compliance with applicable law.’

Karger, however, sees the fact that FPPC is moving forward as a good sign. He said his political attorney told him the commission looks into fewer than 5 percent of complaints, an indication in his mind that ‘when they do it, it’s pretty serious.…

[Roman Porter, executive director of FPPC] said no time line has been set for the investigation and he would not speculate on when the public will know more. But he did say if the FPPC determines fault, the commission could fine ‘up to $5,000 per violation,’ and in some cases might also file a civil lawsuit, which could lead to remedies amounting to ‘three times the amount of unreported or misreported contributions.’” (Jessica Ravitz, “Probe into LDS Church’s Prop 8 donations going forward,” Salt Lake Tribune, November 24, 2008)


“California’s fair-elections commission is investigating a complaint against the Mormon Church’s role in campaigning for Proposition 8, which made marriage illegal between people of the same sex. Based on the facts that have come out so far, the state is right to look into whether the church broke state laws by failing to report campaign-related expenditures.…

Mormons were a major force behind the ballot measure. Individual church members contributed millions of dollars and acted as campaign foot soldiers. The church itself also played an unusually large role. Michael R. Otterson, the managing director of public affairs for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — the full name of the Mormons’ church — said that while the church speaks out on other issues, like abortion, ‘we don’t get involved to the degree we did on this.’…

If the commission finds that the church violated state reporting laws, it could impose penalties of up to $5,000 per violation, and sue for additional amounts. The Mormon Church, which says it is sending information to the commission, says it did nothing wrong.

Churches, which risk their tax-exempt status if they endorse candidates, have more leeway in referendum campaigns. Still, when they enter the political fray, they have the same obligation to follow the rules that nonreligious groups do.” (Editorial, “The Prop 8 Campaign Money,” New York Times, November 29, 2008)


“Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights and an executive committee member of the ‘No on 8’ campaign, said the FPPC should investigate ‘any credible complaint,’ but added that she was skeptical about whether the church violated any campaign finance laws.

‘Given the stable of very smart lawyers working for the church, I think it is highly unlikely that they did anything in violation of the law,’ she said.…” (Chris Johnson,  “Calif. Officials investigate Mormon role in Prop 8,” Washington Blade, December 5, 2008)


“Per your discussion with Elder Clayton, we are sending you this bill for payment by the Coalition. We would appreciate a quick turnaround as it will affect our response to the California Fair Political Practices Commission, which we are anxious to resolve quickly.” (Scott Crapo, Operations Director, [LDS] Public Affairs Department, to Frank Schubert, President, Schubert Flint Public Affairs, January 7, 2009)


“Last week in a deplorable act, California’s Yes on Proposition 8 campaign filed a lawsuit in Federal Court to permanently throw out the California Political Reform Act passed by the voters in 1974. The very group led by the Mormon Church that insisted the voters have the final say on the issue of gay marriage, now wants to change California’s 35-year-old election law to keep contributors to all initiative campaigns secret.…

This vindictive lawsuit even asks that the contributors to Yes on 8 from mid October through year end be kept secret as well. There are presumably thousands more donors of between $100 to $999 who have yet to be reported. What are they trying to hide? The public should know the names of all those who contributed to this and every other ballot initiative in California. It is the law.…” (Fred Karger, “The Mormon PR Campaign on Prop 8,” Huffington Post, January 12, 2009)


“As this letter explains, the Church believes that it is in full compliance with all relevant requirements of California law, including the Political Reform Act. As will amply be shown below, the Karger Complaint is replete with errors, misstatements and irrelevancies. Frankly, there is no merit to any substantive allegation made by Mr. Karger. Consequently, the Church respectfully suggests that the Karger Complaint does not warrant further investigation by the Enforcement Division of the Fair Political Practices Commission.…

… after conducting necessary and appropriate ‘due diligence,’ the Church accepted an invitation to participate in the Committee, a coalition of churches, organizations and individuals who sponsored Proposition 8…

Consistent with the Church’s culture of volunteerism, the Church’s efforts in regard to Proposition 8 were almost entirely focused on encouraging Church members to donate their time and financial means to the Committee.… The Church believes that the very large majority of its Proposition 8 expenditures and contributions re classifiable as ‘member communications’ and are not included within the category of reportable contributions.…

The Proposition 8-related news releases and commentary were prepared by Church employees, several of whose efforts relating to Proposition 8 matters did not exceed 10% of their work time in any calendar month.…

In preparation of this response, the Church did determine that a few of its employees devoted more than 10% of their work time during September, October and November 2008 to the preparation of the news releases and public commentaries, to the preparation of webpages and video and to the supervision of volunteers making pre-election phone calls to California voters. Some of that work occurred during the 16-day period immediately preceding the November 4th election, and the Church now understands that the allocable gross salaries of those employees relating to Proposition 8 efforts during that 16-day period should have been reported within 24 hours of the non-monetary contribution of compensated personal services having been made. To rectify this oversight, the Church filed the Form 497 included at Tab 4 on January 15, 2009. The remainder of the September, October and November 2008 allocable gross salaries of the employees in question will be reported on the Form 461 to be filed by the Church on or before January 30, 2009.…

The Church did not authorize or knowingly permit the distribution of campaign materials within its facilities.… [UNLIKE PROP 22]

The Karger Complaint includes a document entitled ‘Eight Reasons to Vote YES on Proposition 8.’ The Church does not know who is the author or what is origin of this document and was not institutionally involved in its preparation or distribution.…

A limited number of Church leaders and employees from Utah occasionally traveled to California during the Proposition 8 campaign for meetings with (a) Church members (again, to encourage and organize volunteers), (b) Committee leaders and (c) other Committee participants. The fair market value to the Committee of the meetings among Committee leaders and Church leaders and employees—what would be reportable as a non-monetary contribution to the Committee—is speculative at best. Nevertheless, the Form 461 and Forms 497 filed by the Church reported the costs of such travel (including meals and lodging) for Committee leadership meetings as non-monetary contributions to the Committee during the six-month period ending June 30, 2008 and the 16-day period immediately prior to the November 4th election. Reportable travel expenses incurred after June 30, 2008 (excluding those reported on the Forms 497) will be reported on the Form 461 to be filed by the Church on or before January 30, 2009.…

At the Church’s request, Mr. [Gary] Lawrence has also served without compensation or expense reimbursement in a coordination role among Church members in California in their volunteer services on behalf of the Committee.…

In the course of the Proposition 8 campaign, the Church produced several short videos and graphics elements (so-called ‘widgets’) that Church members could use and share with others, including posting on personal blogs or YouTube.com, to explain their views on traditional marriage and Proposition 8.… The Church will report the fair market value of the videos and ‘widgets,’ including the allocable gross salaries of Church employees who devoted more than 10% of their work time in any calendar month to produce the videos and ‘widgets,’ as a non-monetary contribution to the Committee on the Church’s Form 461 to be filed on or before January 30, 2009.…

The Church originated a single satellite broadcast in connection with Proposition 8.… The Church does not believe that any portion of the costs relating to the broadcast is reportable inasmuch as the broadcast constituted a ‘member communication.’…” (Boyd J. Black, Associate General Counsel, LDS Church, to Roman G. Porter, California Fair Political Practices Commission, January 15, 2009)


“Top officials with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints filed reports today indicating that they donated more than $180,000 in in-kind contributions to Proposition 8, the November ballot initiative that banned same-sex marriage in California.…

Prop. 8 opponents say church officials violated election law by failing to file campaign disclosure reports outlining church funds being spent on the campaign. Fred Karger, who filed a complaint with the Fair Political Practices Commission after the election alleging that church officials had not properly disclosed their involvement, said he thought today’s filing proves that his complaint has merit.

‘They said they reported all their travel … now, when there is a [complaint filed] they disclose 25 Southwest tickets just in October,’ he said. ‘They were not required to report this’ in an earlier filing, he said. Church officials could not be reached for comment this evening.’” (Jessica Garrison, “Mormon church reports spending $180,000 on Proposition 8,” Los Angeles Times, January 30, 2009)


“Mormon church officials, facing an ongoing investigation by the state Fair Political Practices Commission, Friday reported nearly $190,000 in previously unlisted assistance to the successful campaign for Prop. 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California.…

‘This is exactly what we were talking about when we filed the suit,’ said Fred Karger of Californians Against Hate, which opposed the same-sex marriage ban. ‘They spent money on the campaign and were supposed to report it.’

Church officials were not available for comment Friday night.…

Up until Friday, the Mormon church had denied any direct financial support for the campaign beyond a reported $2,078 spent for bringing church Elder L. Whitney Clayton to California.…” (John Wildermuth, “Mormon church reports $190,000 Prop. 8 expenses,” San Francisco Chronicle, January 31, 2009)


“Jeff Flint, a strategist for the Yes on 8 campaign, downplayed the latest financial filing that details the Mormon church’s efforts to ban gay marriage.

‘I don’t think anybody beyond rapid opponents of Proposition 8 will consider it newsworthy to find out that leaders of the Mormon church spent time on the campaign,’ Flint said.…

Flint said the Mormon church’s reported direct spending amounted to ‘half of 1 percent of all campaign expenditures.’…” (Bill Meyer, “Mormon church reveals deeper involvement in California’s anti-gay-marriage Proposition 8,” Cleveland Plain Dealer, February 1, 2009)


“This filing [January 30] is in no way prompted by an investigation by the California Fair Political Practices Commission. Many organizations are filing this week to meet the deadline required by law. We believe we have complied with California law.…” (“Church Clarifies Proposition 8 Filing, Corrects Erroneous News Reports,” LDS Newsroom, February 2, 2009)


“Claims that the Church filed only one report of its contributions before January 2009, or did not report all its contributions to the Protect Marriage Coalition, are erroneous.…” (“Media Reports on Proposition 8 Filing Uninformed,” LDS Newsroom, February 4, 2009)


“On behalf of our client, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are enclosing an executed Stipulation, Decision and Order (“Stipulation”) in the above-referenced matter, as well as a cashier’s check for $5,539 made payable to the General Fund of the State of California. Please contact me directly to confirm receipt of the Stipulation, and with any related questions.” 

“Description of violation: Non-monetary late contributions made and not timely reported.

Number of counts: 13

Monetary penalty: $5,539”

(Jesse Mainardi, The Sutton Law Firm, May 24, 2010)


“All institutional contributions made by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the ProtectMarriage Coalition were reported to the appropriate authorities in California.

In the last two weeks leading up to the election, the Church mistakenly overlooked the daily reporting requirement for non-monetary contributions and instead reported those contributions together in a later filing. The Church appreciates the fairness and consideration with which the Fair Political Practices Commission has addressed this oversight.

Claims that the Church misrepresented its contributions to the ProtectMarriage Coalition are false.” (“Statement Regarding FPPC Settlement,” LDS Newsroom, June 8, 2010)


“The Mormon Church has agreed to pay a fine of slightly more than $5,000 for failing to report some campaign staff contributions it made in support of Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot measure that outlawed same-sex marriage.” (Malia Wollan, “Mormon Church Agrees to Pay Campaign Finance Fine,” New York Times, June 9, 2010)


“When contributions of $1,000 or more are made during the final days of an election—the time between the last campaign report required to be filed and the end of the election—late contribution reports must be filed within 24 hours of making or receiving the ‘late’ contribution. The following failed to file a late contribution report as required by law:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints failed to timely report making late non-monetary contributions totaling $36,928 in connection with the November 4, 2008, General Election. $5,539 fine.”

(“News from the FPPC,” June 10, 2010)


Karger: It’s a great story.  The [post-election] investigation records are public, concerning the ethics violation charges against them, after the election.  They had reported only $2,700 in non-monetary expenditures in the whole Prop 8 campaign, and they ended up having to report $190,000.   Then they ended up getting fined and found guilty on thirteen counts of election fraud.  All of the record of that year-and-a-half investigation is public, including seventy-five fulltime church employees in Salt Lake in the Public Affairs Office who worked on the campaign.  Coincidentally, all of them spent less than 10% of their time on the campaign, which is the reporting threshold.  I doubt that that’s true, but that’s what they said. 

(Fred Karger, June 18, 2014)

Karger: After the election, on my way to Key West, somebody called me from Colorado.  He said, “Do you know anything about the Mormons?”  I said, “Very little.”  So for about four hours—someone else was driving—I just asked all these questions. 

Now that the election was over, since I had worked very hard, I had planned a little two- or three-day getaway to Palm Springs.  I was home for election night, but the next day I went to Palm Springs.  I didn’t want to be around for the aftermath, because I expected a loss.  So I went down there, and that’s when the world exploded.  Then I felt really out of it, because all these demonstrations were taking place, and I would have loved to be a part of them; but I was happy I just went to escape for a few days, although I was certainly following the news.

Then I came back and went right at it, and that’s when I looked at the report that the Mormon Church had only spent $2,078 in in-kind contributions.  I knew that was crazy, because by that time, because of Google and tips, I knew they had phone banks, Gary Lawrence was bragging about their website, bragging about the 25,000 volunteers they had out for the nine Saturdays before the election.  I heard about the buses.  Actually, I have a house in Laguna Beach, and I woke up the Saturday morning before the election to screaming people.  I couldn’t imagine what was going on, and I looked out my window and people were just lining the Coast Highway, with “Yes on 8” signs.  I thought, “Were did this come from?”  I got reports from Huntington Beach and San Clemente that there were just miles and miles of peoples lining the streets, like we did a little bit in West Hollywood.  Well, this was organized, and I found out that there were busloads of people brought in.

So I really started figuring out everything the Church was doing, based on public information for the most part, and some tips.  In Rexburg [Idaho], they were using Melaleuca’s offices for phone banks.  I was able to put all these things together, and I decided, in talking to my political attorney, Cary Davidson, that this $2,078 dollar figure that they had reported was completely under-reported.  He explained the state election law to me and how that would work, and the deadlines.  If they had really been working as hard as they had claimed all summer, they should have reported far more money, hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars in in-kind contributions.  

So that’s when I hunkered down for about ten days, right after I got back from Palm Springs.  For this whole project, I don’t think I left my house for ten days, working with Cary to make sure it was in the kind of shape that the investigators in California would be interested in.  I shipped that to Sacramento and waited to hear back from them.

Prince: Is there a counterpart to the Federal Election Commission in California?

Karger: Yes.  It was the first in the country after Watergate.  It’s been around since 1974 and is called the California Fair Political Practices Commission.  I knew of them, having been in the campaign business, but I had never filed a complaint with them before.  Sometimes on a campaign, it was used as a complaint agency.  If your lawn signs were stolen, or somebody sent out a mailer that was not true, the campaign might file a complaint.  It was never in time to really impact, but I knew this was the regulatory body in California.  Cary Davidson, who is an expert in this and has defended many people before the body and taken cases there himself, knew it intimately.  So he guided me through this, and he agreed that it was a worthy complaint to file.

It was a curious thing I did, because you have to file a sworn complaint.  I had never done it before, and I was a little apprehensive taking on this enormous organization; but I was convinced that there was absolutely enough evidence. 

Then, I accidentally discovered this website they had put together, with all of these videos they had done, all these commercials.  I talked to friends in advertising to see what those had cost to produce.  They had permits in certain areas where they shot the commercials.  It was just what I loved doing—it was the opposition research I had done for George H. W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, and other candidates all over the country.  I was an expert at it.  I was retired and passionate about this issue, and I was in the right place at the right time, with the right capabilities in order to put this puzzle together and file the complaint.

I filed the complaint about ten days after the election, and then awaited word from the commission.  I think they have a window where they have to notify you whether they are going to investigate.  Cary told me, as I was filing this, “Don’t get your hopes up, because the FPPC gets inundated, and they investigate fewer than 5% of the complaints that are filed with them.”  So I figured there was a 95% chance of not getting an investigation going.  I didn’t expect much, but I did the press release and there was a lot of interest.

Of course, Michael Otterson attacked me and said I had a wild imagination and was wrong, and the Church gave zero dollars.  A spokesman in Oakland, California looked right into a television camera, after my complaint was filed, and said, “We did not participate.  Everything is reported.”  So the church Public Affairs Office went into full crisis mode—not just over this, because they had been since the Wall Street Journal story broke, and accused me of lying and attacked me personally.  I actually consider that a badge of honor, because I was convinced that they had not followed the election laws in California.  I thought it was because they didn’t have good election lawyers in California, and they didn’t realize our laws here, and they got caught.

On my trip to Key West, which was at Thanksgiving—so this now was a couple of weeks later—I stopped in Mississippi, doing some research.  I remember I was on my way to Tupelo, Mississippi and I just happened to call Roman Porter, who was Executive Director of the Fair Political Practices Commission, because this window was getting ready to expire—however many days they had to notify me and the complainant.  He answered his phone and I said, “Is there any word on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints complaint?”  He said, “We are going to investigate.”  My cell phone was cracking, I was in rural Mississippi, and I was saying, “What?  I can’t hear.  Are you going to investigate, or aren’t you going to investigate?”  It finally came through that they were going to investigate.  So I said, “That’s great.  Thank you so much.”  He said, “We sent a letter to your Laguna Beach address.”  I said I was out of the state, and I said, “Is there any way to fax a copy of that letter to my hotel?”  So they did.

I was up all night and did a press release, and had a copy of the letter to attach.  I was inundated with calls the next day.  I think I took something like fifty press calls that day.  The last one, when I was getting on the plane to go to Miami, was the New York Times.  I said, “I have to go.  I’m getting on my flight.”  But they ran a story the next day.

Then two days later, Chad Griffin, who is now the director of the Human Rights Campaign and who I had met during the last few weeks of the campaign, sent me a text.  I was relaxing in the Keys and I got this text from him.  He said, “Have you seen the New York Times?  There is an editorial supporting you.”  I was able to go online, and the editorial in the New York Times commended the Fair Political Practices Commission for taking on the investigation, and me for filing it.  It was a real exciting moment for me to have the New York Times editorialize on this.  So this little complaint I filed, which had gotten huge attention with this investigation pending, was in a New York Times editorial.

Prince: So they investigated and they found the Church guilty.  They fined the Church.  Then, what happened?  This broadened out for you eventually.

Karger: Backing up a little, Greg, once I got all this attention, I started getting a lot more information.  What was really interesting was that the Church decided they were going to amend their return, file a late return, because they had actually spent quite a bit of money that they hadn’t reported.  So they filed this $190,000 in-kind contribution late report, late on a Friday afternoon the day before the deadline.  That’s what you want to do when you don’t want attention.  Well, a reporter who was at the Secretary of State’s office called me.  That was where they turned these reports in.  He asked if I had known about this.  I told him I had not.  That one was a red flag for him.  I looked at that right away, and then I realized all the things they had been doing.  So I filed a supplemental complaint with the commission.  Once you file a sworn complaint, you can file as many supplemental complaints as you want in order to help the investigation, if you get new information.…

The other thing I got when that investigation finally ended was that after eighteen months, the Church was found guilty on thirteen counts of election fraud.  The fine was not much, and I think they had a very good attorney negotiate that.  They hit some of the areas I brought up.  I think there were a lot more, but when they settle something, that’s how they usually do it, to get a guilty plea.  I looked at all those documents and all the records that were recovered in the investigation.  That’s all public information.  Boy, is that interesting!  There were seventy-five fulltime church employees who worked on the campaign.  Just by chance, all seventy-five of them worked less than 10% of their time on the campaign, which I don’t believe.  But they named all seventy-five.  It’s all on the public record.

Prince: Is 10% the reporting threshold?

Karger: Right!  So they got all seventy-five people to agree that they worked less than 10% of their time.  I find that highly suspicious.  I’m sure they were doing some scrambling to get those numbers so that they weren’t too offensive.  They reported $190,000.  I think they went backwards.

(Fred Karger, July 8, 2014)

Jansson: So now we have launched into the major effort, which is to raise money to fund what we know is going to be a significant advertising campaign, and we are into the end of June.  We’ve got July, August, September, October—we’ve got four months and two weeks to make this thing fly.  Schubert Flint is on board.  We have a brace of meetings all oriented around developing the ad campaign.  Gary Lawrence is hired to do the demographic studies and the polling and the focus groups on the ads, and we are moving forward at light speed.

We get some initial contributions and—by the way, I think I can say this to you without a single reservation—the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints donated not a single dime to ProtectMarriage.  You know that, right?

Prince: I know that.

Jansson: The only issue the Church had was that because of an oversight, they never recognized at the time that they had an obligation to file with the Fair Political Practices Commission in the State of California that they had either visited or participated in any secondary way in the campaign.  Well, the Church ultimately filed all that paperwork.  They were fined by the FPPC, predicated on the amount that the Church actually filed with them, in terms of dollars that could be related to Prop 8.

Prince: “In kind.”

Jansson: In-kind donations, and they were fined $4,000.  That is like you getting a speeding ticket in San Francisco and getting a $20 fine, when the fines that are typically leveled against people that do that are in the $400, $500, $600, $700 range.  Do you get the drift?

Prince: Yes.

Jansson: It was a formal, “This happened and you were late, but there was no intent.”  Nine times out of ten when the FPPC fines you, they fine you 100% of whatever it was you spent on a campaign.  So if you spent $100,000 and it didn’t get reported, the fine is $100,000.  They want to make it as painful as possible, because their objective initially, by law, was to discourage secondary and tertiary groups, and last-minute contributions to political campaigns that couldn’t be traced. 

As a consequence, they also set a threshold that if you donated more than $99 to a campaign, your name became filed with the Secretary of State and would become public record.  That’s another whole issue to this campaign that had an effect on how things would turn out, and is still a problem with the law.

Prince: And why it became called “The Mormon Proposition.”

Jansson: In some circles it did, but because the Catholics had a high profile in it, we never took the entire hit.  The interesting thing was that it’s easy to throw rocks at somebody you know is not going to throw rocks back, and the Church was a welcoming target.

(Mark Jansson, November 16, 2015)