In March, I posted about a complaint filed against amendment supporters for “hiding” their donors. Last month, the Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board dismissed the complaint due to the fact that the Minnesota Family Council “did not technically break any disclosure rules by failing to disclose the names of several of its donors.”
But, wait. Isn’t that why we have disclosure rules, so that the public is aware of who is donating to these types of campaigns? Well, it turns out that because the Minnesota Family Council’s purpose is more than just passing this mean-spirited amendment, they don’t technically count as a Political Action Committee, and as a result, do not need to disclose their donors.
The definition of political committee is based on the purpose of the association; that is, the reason the association exists. Applying this definition, the purpose of an association is more synonymous with its mission than with some particular end result that it might achieve toward that broader mission. MFC’s mission is well-stated by Mr. Prichard in his affidavit quoted above. MFC’s activities have been consistent with that mission. During its existence, MFC has undertaken a variety of activities, including its current intensive efforts to ensure passage of the marriage definition ballot question. The Board concludes that MFC’s 2011 and 2012 efforts to pass the ballot question are in furtherance of its purpose but do not narrow that purpose from its more broadly stated mission. Thus, MFC has not become a political committee as a result of these activities.
This is both frustrating and sad. The board’s ruling clears the path of funneling money into these types of organizations to avoid disclosure rules that have been established to bring more visibility into the organizations and people influencing our elections.