Sunday, February 01, 2009

Mormon Church admits they lied about funding Prop 8.

It’s official, the Mormon Church lied. When I say it is official I am going straight to the source itself. The Mormon Church has now basically admitted that they publicly lied about their role in pushing Proposition 8 to remove marriage rights from gay couples in California.

The role of the Mormon sect in this anti equality crusade was heavily reported on at the time. The Mormon leadership feigned shock and said they were being victimized and discriminated against because it was just a bunch of lies. They claimed that they spent only $2,078 in support of Proposition 8. And obedient Mormons posted that claim on web sites and in letters to newspapers all across the country. The litany from Mormon apologists was that Prop 8 campaigns (pro and con) spent millions while the Mormon Church spent a paltry $2,078. Based on that, to single them out as a major factor just showed prejudice and bigotry. Mormons love to play the victim card.

The problem was that there was plenty of evidence that the $2,078 figure was a lie. It was clear that the Mormon Church had spent much, much more than that and was illegally hiding those donations. It was proven that the church had operated telephone banks to get Prop 8 volunteers recruited from Mormon ranks. It was also known that a satellite link up was used to broadcast a top level Mormon speaking to hundreds of Mormons churches, urging their members to volunteer for Prop 8 and to contribute money. All these “in kind” donations were left off the reports of what the Mormon Church had spent in the campaign.

Some Prop 8 opponents filed complaints with California that the Mormon Church had been deceptive about the level of funding they gave to the measure. And, with enough evidence to back them up, the state was investigating the matter. Facing this investigation, which was going to show the church had lied, the Mormon leadership decided to file a new, updated report which admitted they had filed misleading financial reports before. They are now saying that they previously neglected to report 99% of their actual spending. When you neglect to report 99% of what you spent in a campaign, you are not being forgetful. To neglect 99% of your contributions requires premeditated, intentional action on your part. While one might accidentally forget to mention an expense here or there, it stretches credibility for anyone to think that 99% of spending was left off the reports due to an error.

The new report filed by the Mormons admits to spending around $190,000. Even when the complaint against their deceptive reporting was originally filed, the Church insisted that they had reported everything that was required. But the new, amended report now admits that their previous denial was false. They say that the church spent $96,849 alone on church staff members who, while paid by the Mormon Church, were working for Prop 8. Dozens of air tickets were purchased for top officials from the Mormon sect to fly to California to rally the local Mormons behind the measure

I strongly suspect that this is still a fraction of the total that was actually spent by the Mormon Church. As a Church they have long history of secrecy and playing fast and loose with the truth especially when it comes to their public statements. And there are areas of spending which I have reported on this site which I doubt are included in the amended figures which the Church reluctantly filed.

I also suspect that the reason they filed this report was that any investigation into their activities would easily prove these expenditures by the church. I have little doubt that Church officials are hoping that this admission will end any investigation and leave uncovered a even greater level of spending by the sect.

Even if this were all the contributions from the official church, it is still misleading. What is critical to remember is what they did with the $190,000 that they now admit spending. What the Mormon leadership did was use this money to raise significantly more money from the Mormon faithful. Church leaders spent these funds sending messages to other Mormons to fund Proposition 8. Estimates have Mormons contributing $20 million in total to this campaign.

So the money spent was used to finance a fund-raising effort that ultimately provided the lion’s share of the revenue used in the anti equality campaign. The New York Times accurately reported that Mormon support “tipped the scales” for Prop 8. Considering how close the vote was in the state, it is safe to say that without the $20 million in Mormon funding that Prop 8 would have failed.

So, even if the $190,000 is the full amount the Church spent, it directly lead to the raising of millions of dollars. The $190,000 spent by Mormon leaders surreptitiously was pivotal because it lead to millions more in campaign funds, which were enough to turn a losing percentage into a narrow victory.

It is no surprise that the media is now reporting that Mormon officials were “unavailable” to comment on this admission by the Church. The fact is that the Mormon leadership lied about their role in Proposition 8. They lied about the money they spent and they knew they were lying. Only the impending investigation of their lies forced them come clean and admit they had reported only around 1% of the true figure. And I still alleged that there is a lot more hidden spending that can be uncovered. If the California state government goes ahead with their investigation, I expect some new “amended” reports to suddenly be filed by the Church. And even then I wouldn’t bet that those would cover it all.

So what sort of credibility does this church have? They lied about the money they spent on the campaign. When they were called out on the lies they made accusations against those who caught them, and continued to lie Only when faced with an investigation that they couldn’t control, did they suddenly discover that they a hell of a lot more then they previously admitted.

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