Lorie Costigan at The Times Record has filed a very worthy report on the hearing.
And here's some video:
Some fair-minded person sent me this link prior to NOM's public posting of their 2007 and 2008 federal tax returns:
That used to be an invisible link to NOM's 2008 return. It's dead now.
But it was live when I first posted it, and soon after I did, NOM (finally) posted their 2007 and 2008 returns in plain sight on their own website.
Interestingly enough, the 2007 return they've posted there differs from the 2007 return I previously received from the IRS. For example, they have removed Common Sense America from the list of hired contractors in this latest version of their 2007 return.
What happened? Did they suddenly realize (in 2009!) that they hadn't actually paid Common Sense America $166,000 back in 2007 as previously reported?
Compare Part II-A (Page 10) of the 2007 return now available at NOM's website and the 2007 return I received from the IRS and you'll see that Design4 and Common Sense America Inc. are no longer listed as independent contractors on the most recent filing (I'm assuming that the return now available on the NOM website is the latest amended version). What is NOM's explanation for why Design4 and Common Sense America Inc. no longer appear?
Glaring discrepancies aside, is it SOP for a 501(c)(4) to file four different versions of the same return before finally making it public? Of course not. But that is exactly what NOM have done with their 2007 Form 990: one initial filing, three amended, none made public by NOM until now.
Absent an explanation regarding the disappearance of two highly-paid contractors from NOM's latest amended 2007 return, the time has come to stop carefully referring to the members of this confusing quartet as "initial" or "amended" and start applying the simpler and more accurate "fraudulent" to describe this bewildering bunch of 2007 returns.
Moving on to their 2008 return ... I enjoyed this snarky quip from Justin McLachlan: "How did [NOM] spend most of that money? Well, $2.1 million went to something they call 'all other expense.' How's that for disclosure and transparency?"
Of course, it's no secret that most of NOM's 2008 expenditures went to the Prop 8 battle, considering that NOM was the outfit that paid to get Prop 8 on the ballot in the first place. This is why NOM's fundraising and spending skyrocketed in 2008 compared to 2007. California is no "cheap date" (signature-gathering is a massive - and massively-expensive - undertaking in that huge state). This is also the main reason I'm highly skeptical of NOM's $7 million 2009 budget forecast (as reported by Brian Brown to the Maine authorities in this sworn statement). There is simply no comparable battle on the horizon in NOM's world that would require anything like the monies raised and spent during 2008's Prop 8 contest. As you peruse NOM's 2008 Form 990 below, please note that they finished 2008 with $78K cash on hand. In other words, this organization with a purported 2009 budget of $7,000,000 started the year with $78,000.
Which is why I suspect that all of Brian Brown and Barry Bostrom's talk about paying Iowa and Maine expenses out of NOM's general fund has been just that: talk.
And why I also suspect that one of the first things the Maine investigators are going to discover is that Brian's 2009 budget forecast was a calculated lie.
Why lie? Here's why: NOM needed to swear to an inflated $7 million figure in order to make their six-digit Maine expenditures look small by comparison. Otherwise, Maine law is clear: if NOM are allocating a substantial portion of their budget to a Maine ballot question, they absolutely must register as a Maine PAC.
It is now October 2009. If Brian was telling the truth in his September 2009 sworn affidavit to the Maine commission, he can prove it by confirming his year-to-date fundraising total. Considering that he began the year with $78K, Brian should by now have raised nearly $6.9 million. Has he?
The Maine investigators have subpoena power. I would suggest that there is no reason to delay asking Brian Brown this simple question under oath: What is the dollar amount of NOM's total contributions received so far in 2009?
A simple question and one that any executive director worth $130K/year ought to be able to answer off the top of his head.
In any case, enough of that. On to the actual 2008 return itself:
Looking forward to reading what others notice in NOM's 2008 tax return.
P.S. My Thursday flashback:
By the way, Brian and his attorneys (Bopp, Coleson & Bostrom) are up in Maine today. Maybe some intrepid blogger can catch up with Brian there (at the meeting of the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices to consider Fred Karger's request for an investigation of the S4MM PAC re violations of state campaign finance laws).
Meeting time: 9:00 a.m., Thursday, October 1st
Location: Room 208, Burton M. Cross Office Building, 111 Sewall Street, Augusta.
UPDATE: Fred Karger and Danielle Truszkovsky did it!!!
Must read: Fred Karger describes his victory in Maine
And let's hear it for the commissioners, too (three, to be exact): Bravo!
P.P.S. For those readers interested in hearing Brian Brown's side of this story before making your own determination, you may schedule a tête-à-tête with Brian by contacting Elizabeth Ray (x.130) or Mary Beth Hutchins (x.105) at 703-683-5004.
P.P.P.S. It's not harassment, Brian. It's curiosity. And you have only yourself to blame for stoking it.
NOM's Brian Brown besieged after the recent Maine Ethics Commission hearing:
Photo credit: Danielle Truszkovsky
CAH's Fred Karger elated after the recent Maine Ethics Commission hearing:
Photo credit: Danielle Truszkovsky
Follow the money, Maine!